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EMU's Decentralized System of Fiscal Policy


  • Jürgen von Hagen
  • Charles Wyplosz


This paper reviews the macroeconomic use of national fiscal policy in EMU and examines the rational and scope for a collective insurance system which redistributes income among countries in response to asymmetric cyclical shocks. The analysis of the record of national fiscal policies before and after the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty finds evidence that the quality of fiscal policies has improved in two ways: they are more clearly countercyclical - or less procyclical - and they are more readily used to restore competitiveness than to attempt to boost demand when competitiveness is eroded. These observations suggest that fiscal policy remains a useful instrument. One question is whether it can be augmented - or perhaps substituted for - with a collective insurance system. Collective insurance is one alternative to external borrowing and lending and therefore one way to deal with the concerns that the SGP is meant to address. We examine in more detail two collective insurance systems: tax revenue sharing and unemployment insurance sharing. We find that the earlier is more promising and examine in some detail how it could be set up. It is no panacea, though. Any insurance mechanism entails moral hazard and that moral hazard can, at best, only be mitigated, not eliminated.

Suggested Citation

  • Jürgen von Hagen & Charles Wyplosz, 2008. "EMU's Decentralized System of Fiscal Policy," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 306, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  • Handle: RePEc:euf:ecopap:0306

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aleksander Aristovnik & Matevž Meze, 2017. "The impact of supranational fiscal rules on public finance: the case of EMU member states," Global Business and Economics Review, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 19(1), pages 38-53.
    2. Étienne Farvaque & Florence Huart, 2016. "Drowned by Numbers? Designing an EU-wide Unemployment Insurance," CIRANO Working Papers 2016s-33, CIRANO.
    3. Etienne Farvaque & Florence Huart, 2017. "A policymaker’s guide to a Euro area stabilization fund," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 34(1), pages 11-30, April.
    4. Zemanek, Holger, 2009. "Fiscal Transfers and Structural Reforms in the European Monetary Union," MPRA Paper 19357, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Angelo Baglioni & Andrea Boitani & Massimo Bordignon, 2016. "Labor Mobility and Fiscal Policy in a Currency Union," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 72(4), pages 371-406, December.
    6. Virkola, Tuomo, 2014. "Fiscal Federalism in Four Federal Countries," ETLA Reports 38, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    7. C. Randall HENNING & Martin KESSLER, 2012. "Fiscal Federalism: US History for Architects of Europe’s Fiscal Union," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 6, pages 1-31.
    8. Christoph Bierbrauer, 2017. "National Fiscal Stimulus Packages And Consolidation Strategies In A Monetary Union," Working Papers 110, Institute of Empirical Economic Research, Osnabrueck University.
    9. Alessandro Turrini, 2008. "Fiscal policy and the cycle in the Euro Area: The role of government revenue and expenditure," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 323, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.

    More about this item


    Economic and Monetary Union; fiscal Key words Economic and Monetary Union; fiscal stabilisation; collective insurance mechanism; Von Hagen; Wyplosz;

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy


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