EMU Fiscal Rules: A New Answer to an Old Question?
26 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2012
Date Written: February 1, 2001
EMU fiscal rules aim at ensuring sound fiscal policies in EU Member States while allowing sufficient margins for stabilisation policy. The Treaty of Maastricht and the Stability and Growth Pact introduced a detailed framework of rules, surveillance procedures and sanctions that are tighter than those generally applying in federal countries. In this paper we try to assess to what extent the issue facing the founders of EMU was a new one in the field of public finance and to what extent the solution chosen can be regarded as innovative. To this end, we review the literature on budgetary rules from its very beginning to the years immediately before the Treaty of Maastricht. We consider the arguments brought forward to justify EMU fiscal rules and the novel feature of the problem faced at the EU level, represented by the interaction between its multinational nature and the lack of a political authority of federal rank. The solutions chosen, while drawing heavily on ideas that were central in the debate on fiscal rules, reflect this new aspect of the problem. The highly decentralised setting of fiscal policy in EMU gave prominence to moral hazard issues; it is probably at the roots of the rejection of both the dual budget approach and the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary finance; it motivated the adoption of a detailed multilateral surveillance procedure and the introduction of a predetermined limit for the annual deficit in a framework that envisages the targeting of a balanced budget over the cycle.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation