Europe and the EU

Policy briefs

Economic Governance from Rules to Management

22 Dec 2020 - 10:52
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How to strengthen member states

The toolbox of economic governance has been considerably expanded this past decade. Further development of instruments should not be expected; steps towards a fiscal union will remain modest in the foreseeable future. Although the many merits of the existing toolbox, it ensured neither respect for the SGP rules nor convergence. The crisis situation following the corona pandemic called for emergency measures. As we have to prepare for post-corona economic governance, this is the time to reflect on new and complementary economic instruments and procedures. Many ideas are going around for modifying the existing toolbox. Important as the discussions about, among others, the re-ignition of the SGP and semester may be, the current situation should be used to initiate a new governance trajectory aimed at reinforcing independent national institutions and maximising national ownership of objectives related to convergence.

The required complementary governance agenda draws on experience in success EU policies areas and is aimed at converging national institutions in the framework of EU networks. When it comes to the SGP, rules are important but they are meaningless without ownership for the intentions behind the rules. This will demand a switch in roles from the European Commission and in particular from DG ECFIN and the European Fiscal Board (EFB). In essence, the proposed new approach is based on the subsidiarity-based distinction between first and second-order control. The member states have to supervise themselves and the Commission has to monitor whether they have the required independent institutions.

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