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Is Lisbon far from Maastricht? Trade-offs and Complementarities between Fiscal Discipline and Structural Reforms

  • Buti, Marco
  • Röger, Werner
  • Turrini, Alessandro Antonio

While according to the so-called “Brussels-Frankfurt consensus” sound fiscal policies and structural reforms support each other, it is often claimed that the EU fiscal framework, by reducing the budgetary room of manoeuvre and the political capital of governments, may deter reforms. The aim of this paper is to explore which factors determine the relation between fiscal discipline and reforms. By means of a simple model we show that, depending on the time horizon of the government, structural reforms may either be complement or substitute with fiscal discipline. If governments are forward-looking, substitution is more likely; if governments are short-sighted, reforms and fiscal discipline may become complement. We provide empirical evidence supporting this argument. In a sample of EU-15 countries over the past three decades, the introduction of the Maastricht constraints at the beginning of the 1990s does not seem to have affected the probability of labour market reforms on average, but had a positive and significant impact on countries with governments facing elections in the current or forthcoming year (which are hence assumed to behave myopically). Our results suggest that if governments are short-sighted, then the expectation that relaxing fiscal constraints may help to boost structural reforms may be ill-founded.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6204.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6204
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  1. Roberto Perotti, 2002. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Economics Working Papers 015, European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes.
  2. Sapir, Andre & Aghion, Philippe & Bertola, Giuseppe & Hellwig, Martin & Pisani-Ferry, Jean & Rosati, Dariusz & Vinals, Jose & Wallace, Helen, 2004. "An Agenda for a Growing Europe: The Sapir Report," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199271498, March.
  3. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
  4. Schuknecht, Ludger & Tanzi, Vito, 2005. "Reforming public expenditure in industrialised countries: are there trade-offs?," Working Paper Series 0435, European Central Bank.
  5. Deroose, Servaas & Turrini, Alessandro Antonio, 2005. "The Short-Term Budgetary Implications of Structural Reforms. Evidence from a Panel of EU Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 5217, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Nicoletti, Giuseppe & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2003. "Regulation, productivity, and growth : OECD evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2944, The World Bank.
  7. Marco Buti & Lucio R. Pench, 2004. "Why Do Large Countries Flout the Stability Pact? And What Can Be Done About It?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(5), pages 1025-1032, December.
  8. Hallett, Andrew Hughes & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard & Richter, Christian, 2005. "The European economy at the cross roads: Structural reforms, fiscal constraints, and the Lisbon Agenda," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 229-250, June.
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  10. Duval, Romain & Elmeskov, Jørgen, 2006. "The effects of EMU on structural reforms in labour and product markets," Working Paper Series 0596, European Central Bank.
  11. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 2002. "The Stability and Growth Pact as an Impediment to Privatizing Social Security," NBER Working Papers 9278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Marco Buti & Paul Noord, 2004. "Fiscal Discretion and Elections in the Early Years of EMU," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 737-756, November.
  13. Perotti, Roberto, 2002. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Working Paper Series 0168, European Central Bank.
  14. Alho, Kari E.O., 2006. "Structural Reforms in the EU and Political Myopia in Economic Policies," Discussion Papers 1050, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  15. Bean, Charles, 1998. "Monetary Policy under EMU," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 41-53, Autumn.
  16. Roel M. W. J. Beetsma & Xavier Debrun, 2004. "Reconciling Stability and Growth: Smart Pacts and Structural Reforms," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(3), pages 431-456, November.
  17. Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1998. "The Stability Pact: more than a minor nuisance?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 65-113, 04.
  18. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2002. "An estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Research 35, National Bank of Belgium.
  19. Khalid Sekkat & Marco Buti & Carlos Martinez-Mongay & Paul van den Noord, 2003. "Automatic fiscal stabilisers in EMU: a conflict between efficiency and stabilization?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7354, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  20. Marco Buti, 2006. "Will the new stability and growth pact succeed? An economic and political perspective," European Economy - Economic Papers 241, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
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