The implications of the European Union’s new fiscal rules


Zsolt Darvas Lennard Welslau Jeromin Zettelmeyer

European Union countries are required by the EU Treaty to keep their budget deficits within 3 percent of GDP, and their public debt within 60 percent of GDP. A new framework to enforce these rules is based on country-specific debt sustainability analyses (DSA) and uses a single indicator, a measure of public expenditure, as the annual fiscal policy target. These changes are welcome. To assess the sustainability of public finances, it is much better to focus on the likely evolution of the debt path than to rely on simple numerical rules. Public expenditures net of changes to tax policy are a far better target for fiscal policy than the deficit, since they are under the control of the government and cannot give rise to pro-cyclical fiscal policy (excess spending in good times, fiscal cuts in bad times). These features could increase the framework’s efficiency and improve compliance.

Πηγή: Bruegel

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