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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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  • Buti, Marco & Röger, Werner & Turrini, Alessandro Antonio, 2007. "Is Lisbon far from Maastricht? Trade-offs and Complementarities between Fiscal Discipline and Structural Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 6204, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6204

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    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, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Angana Banerji & Bergljot B Barkbu & James A John & Tidiane Kinda & Sergejs Saksonovs & Hanni Schoelermann & Tao Wu, 2015. "Building a Better Union; Incentivizing Structural Reforms in the Euro Area," IMF Working Papers 15/201, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Ali BAYAR & Bram SMEETS, "undated". "Excessive Deficits in the European Union: An Analysis of Entry and Exit Dynamics," EcoMod2009 21500011, EcoMod.
    3. Ali Bayar & Bram Smeets, 2009. "Government Deficits in the European Union: An Analysis of Entry and Exit Dynamics," CESifo Working Paper Series 2703, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Marco Buti & Alessandro Turrini & Paul Noord & Pietro Biroli, 2009. "Defying the ‘Juncker curse’: can reformist governments be re-elected?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 65-100, February.
    5. Alessandro Girardi & Paolo Paesani, 2008. "Structural Reforms and Fiscal Discipline in Europe," Transition Studies Review, Springer;Central Eastern European University Network (CEEUN), vol. 15(2), pages 389-402, September.
    6. Campoy Juan Cristóbal & Negrete Juan C., 2010. "Structural Reforms and Budget Deficits in a Monetary Union: A Strategic Approach," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-31, July.
    7. Alho, Kari E.O., 2015. "Structural Reforms and Stabilization Policies in the Euro Area," ETLA Working Papers 31, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    8. Nikos Koutsiaras, 2010. "How to Spend it: Putting a Labour Market Modernization Fund in Place of the European Globalization Adjustment Fund," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 617-640, June.
    9. Ioannou, Demosthenes & Stracca, Livio, 2014. "Have the euro area and EU governance worked? Just the facts," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 1-17.

    More about this item


    Economic effects of deficits; Stability and Growth Pact; structural reforms;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • J58 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Public Policy
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General

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