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Implementing the Stability and Growth Pact; Enforcement and Procedural Flexibility


  • Roel M. W. J. Beetsma
  • Xavier Debrun


The paper analyzes some key policy trade-offs involved in the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact. Greater "procedural" flexibility in the Pact's implementation may improve welfare. Procedural flexibility designates the enforcer's room to apply judgment on underlying policies and to set a consolidation path that does not discourage high-quality measures. Budgetary opaqueness may hinder the qualitative assessment of fiscal policy; therefore, better monitoring and greater transparency would increase the benefits from procedural flexibility. Overall, a simple deficit rule with conditional procedural flexibility can contain excessive deficits, lower unproductive spending, and increase high-quality outlays.

Suggested Citation

  • Roel M. W. J. Beetsma & Xavier Debrun, 2005. "Implementing the Stability and Growth Pact; Enforcement and Procedural Flexibility," IMF Working Papers 05/59, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/59

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barry Eichengreen, 2004. "Institutions for Fiscal Stability," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25.
    2. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2004. "Improving the SGP Through a Proper Accounting of Public Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 4220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. von Hagen, Jurgen & Wolff, Guntram B., 2006. "What do deficits tell us about debt? Empirical evidence on creative accounting with fiscal rules in the EU," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 3259-3279, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Sibert, Anne & Sutherland, Alan, 2000. "Monetary union and labor market reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 421-435, August.
    6. 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.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 403-414.
    8. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard, 2001. "Currency unions and the incentive to reform: are market mechanisms enough?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 139-155, July.
    9. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2004. "Good, bad or ugly? On the effects of fiscal rules with creative accounting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 377-394, January.
    10. Beetsma, Roel & Uhlig, Harald, 1999. "An Analysis of the Stability and Growth Pact," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 546-571, October.
    11. Lars Calmfors & Giancarlo Corsetti, 2003. "How to Reform Europe’s Fiscal Policy Framework," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(1), pages 109-116, January.
    12. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2004. "EU fiscal rules: issues and lessons from political economy," Working Paper Series 421, European Central Bank.
    13. Olivier Blanchard, 2004. "The Economic Future of Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
    14. Francesca Castellani & Xavier Debrun, 2001. "Central Bank Independence and the Design of Fiscal Institutions," IMF Working Papers 01/205, International Monetary Fund.
    15. Robert A. J. Dur & Ben D. Peletier & Otto H. Swank, 1999. "Voting on the Budget Deficit: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1377-1381, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fiorella Kostoris Padoa Schioppa, 2006. "The 2005 Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact: Too Little, Too Late?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 6, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    2. Juergen von Hagen, 2010. "The Sustainability of Public Finanaces and Fiscal Policy Coordination in the EMU," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 412, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2004. "EU fiscal rules: issues and lessons from political economy," Working Paper Series 421, European Central Bank.
    4. Hoeven, Rolph van der. & Lübker, Malte., 2006. "Financial openness and employment the need for coherent international and national policies," ILO Working Papers 993887733402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. James Hollyer, 2010. "Conditionality, compliance, and domestic interests: State capture and EU accession policy," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 387-431, December.
    6. International Monetary Fund, 2006. "Bosnia and Herzegovina; Selected Issues," IMF Staff Country Reports 06/368, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Paolo Biraschi, "undated". "Searching for the optimal EMU fiscal rule:an ex-post analysis of the SGP reform proposals," Working Papers wp2008-7, Department of the Treasury, Ministry of the Economy and of Finance.
    8. Carlo Panico & Francesco Purificato, 2012. "The Role of Institutional and Political Factors in the European Debt Crisis," Working Papers wp280, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    9. repec:ilo:ilowps:388773 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2006. "A Common Pool Theory of Deficit Bias Correction," CEPR Discussion Papers 5866, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2010. "A common pool theory of supranational deficit ceilings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 269-278, February.
    12. Andrés Leal Marcos & Julio López Laborda, 2009. "Efectos externos del endeudamiento sobre la calificación crediticia de las Comunidades Autónomas," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 189(2), pages 81-106, June.
    13. Esposito, Piero & Paradiso, Antonio & Rao, B. Bhaskara, 2011. "The dynamics of Spanish public debt and sustainable paths for fiscal consolidation," MPRA Paper 32563, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Bergman, U. Michael & Hutchison, Michael M. & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard, 2016. "Promoting sustainable public finances in the European Union: The role of fiscal rules and government efficiency," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-19.

    More about this item


    Fiscal rules; Fiscal policy; Stability and Growth Pact; procedural flexibility; deficits; structural reforms; fiscal framework; expenditure; excessive deficits; Investment; and Finance; Taxation; National Budget; Deficit; and Debt;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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