Automatic Fiscal Stabiliser: Make it happen!

2 May 2016
László Andor (Senior Adviser to EPC on employment and the EMU) and Regula Hess (Policy Adviser to a German member of parliament and a co-founder of the grassroots think tank Polis180)

The eurozone crisis triggered a whole new series of innovations in EU economic governance in order to make the Union more resilient for the next economic downswing. But one of the more persistent issues are the socio-economic divergences between member states, identified by the Five Presidents’ Report as a major problem in the functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Debates took place in recent years about automatic stabilisers, and more specifically about the possibility of introducing an unemployment insurance within the EMU. While the need for some form of fiscal risk-sharing has become a dominant view in expert circles, there has been much less progress among the main political parties and stakeholders. In this study, Regula Hess and László Andor analyse the political feasibility of the adoption of an automatic fiscal stabiliser (AFS) for the eurozone by evaluating actors’ positions towards three distinctive proposals: 1) cyclical shock insurance, 2) reinsurance, 3) a European basic unemployment insurance; they included an empirical case study of France and Germany as the most relevant players within the intergovernmental bargaining constellation. Although the authors realise the current political context makes the adoption of an AFS improbable, Hess and Andor encourage stakeholders to further pursue the discussion, as windows of opportunities can open at any time, and even give some suggestions on what the parameters of the most feasible proposal might be.  

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