Beyond the austerity dispute: new priorities for fiscal policy
The workshop aimed at moving forward the fiscal policy debate, which in the crisis years was unavoidably focused on how to regain fiscal credibility and to implement sizable and fast consolidation plans. Four main themes have been proposed for the debate during the workshop. First, the two-way link between fiscal consolidation and inequality, with the idea that consolidation efforts cannot be successful in the long run if they entail a socially unsustainable increase in inequality. Second, the importance of preserving, even in contexts in which the fiscal policy stance is necessarily restrictive, growth-enhancing public investments. Third, the challenges posed to fiscal management by a low inflation context, taking into account that a subdued price dynamics not only makes the real burden of debt heavier, but it also has subtle effects, at least in the short term, on several budgetary items. Finally, the need for a simpler and more appropriate set of rules for the governance of the EMU. The latter topic was also the object of the high-level panel at the end of the workshop. While differences in emphasis emerged among the panellists, they agreed that the current framework could be streamlined, and – more importantly – that no set of rules can work if trust and a sense of sharing a common objective is not rebuilt among the Member States.
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