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  • Author: Sebastian Plóciennik
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although the euro has survived the most severe phase of the current crisis, its future is still uncertain. The fate of the common currency will depend not only on the condition of the European economy, but also the priorities of its biggest player—Germany. So far that country has been strong enough to enforce its own vision of integration based on neoliberal reforms and austerity measures. Since the side effects of this prescription have been rising costs and risks, Berlin's new government will consider a range of different solutions, including in extremis a controlled and partial break-up of the Eurozone. For Poland, this volatility creates a challenging environment with risks, but also creates chances for Warsaw to increase its influence over the evolution of EU integration in this field.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Throughout the history of IMF lending, the institution has had PCS — that is, distressed countries borrowing from the IMF are expected to give priority to meeting their obligations to the IMF over those to other (private or official) creditors. This status is a defining characteristic of the IMF's role in financial crises: it provides a high degree of confidence that IMF resources are safe even when other creditors of the distressed country face substantial uncertainty about whether they will be repaid in full. In other words, the IMF, which lends to some of the riskiest countries in the world, faces minimal risk that its resources could be compromised by a debtor country's difficulties in servicing its debt. It does so, however, with the confidence that comes from its role in helping to formulate and monitor a program of policies that are strongly expected to return the country to stability.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Janne Salminen, Päivi Leino
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The actual need for Treaty amendments is open to interpretation, for example in relation to the inclusion of the recent euro crisis-related international agreements in EU law. These questions are partly political in nature, and linked to the wider legitimacy of the EU and the integrity and clarity of its legal system. The full realization of the Commission's vision for the future of the EMU would require Treaty changes in order to revise the nature of competence in the area of economic policy and the general framework of cooperation. The recent discussion on the euro crisis measures has demonstrated that many member states have constitutional 'red lines' relating, for example, to the exercise of budgetary powers or sovereignty. It seems unlikely that these hurdles will be overcome in the short term.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Xavier Vanden Bosch
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: In recent years much has been accomplished to make the EMU more resilient to banking crises, sovereign-debt crises or balance-of-payment crises. Several 'backstops' or financial safety nets were progressively put in place to absorb the shocks that could have otherwise broken the EMU as a system. These substantial advances reflected a gradual, trial-and-error approach rather than a grand design that would have completely overhauled the EMU architecture. While flexibility and realism have advantages, complacency is a clear risk. With no roadmap to follow, efforts to complete the architecture of the EMU may fade with time. Maintaining a sense of direction is crucial while potential vulnerabilities remain.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stijn Verhelst, Xavier Vanden Bosch
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief discusses the challenges that await policymakers in reforming the EMU. A balance between discipline and solidarity will have to be found, while institutional reforms should improve the eurozone's legitimacy and efficiency. The key decisions on EMU reforms will have to be made during the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, as the window of opportunity for major reforms is likely to be closed afterwards.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Timo Behr, Tuomas Iso-Markku
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The outcome of the German federal elections on September 22nd will have a significant impact on the management of the on-going eurozone crisis and set the tone for the future course of European integration. Although the EU and the euro are largely absent from current electoral debates, significant differences on these issues exist both inside and between German political parties in the run-up to the September polls. However, in the absence of significant debate, fundamental decisions over the future of EU integration will be postponed until after the election, when a cross-party compromise appears more feasible. Regardless of the election outcome, the next German government is likely to prove more conciliatory on austerity policies in Europe and will boost domestic spending, but will retain some red lines on further EU integration. While the rhetoric and the pace of change might differ significantly depending on the shape that the next coalition government takes, German eurozone policies will continue to trade fiscal solidarity for structural reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Since the US Federal Reserve signalled that a turn in the interest rate cycle may be on the horizon, UK and to a lesser extent Eurozone interest rates have tracked US rates higher. But the UK and Eurozone economies are less well placed than the US to cope with higher interest rates. Simulations carried out on our Global Economic Model show that higher rates would be particularly harmful to the UK economy's embryonic recovery. In an attempt to stem the rise in interest rates, the Bank of England and the ECB have introduce forward guidance but with little, if any, success. Markets do not seem convinced by the Bank of England's commitment to forward guidance and are testing its resolve. It seems likely that over time both central banks may have to strengthen their forward guidance, in the case of the Bank of England by augmenting it with further quantitative easing.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Mario Draghi's commitment a year ago to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro looks to have been an important turning point in the Eurozone crisis. Systemic risk has fallen, the euro has strengthened, spreads on peripheral debt have narrowed and bond and equity markets have become less sensitive to bad Eurozone news flow. Indeed, to date markets seem to have taken Draghi at his word and seem unwilling to test his resolve. But although confidence in the outlook for the Eurozone among investors has risen over the past year, the real economy is yet to emerge from recession. We continue to expect this to happen in the second half of this year, a view supported by this week's improvement in the PMI data. However, unless action is taken to reduce borrowing costs paid by households and companies in the peripheral economies, the recovery will be anaemic. With that in mind, the ECB's announcement that it will ease its collateral rules only marginally is disappointing.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Comments from the US Federal Reserve aimed at signalling that monetary policy cannot stay at historically low levels indefinitely have caused bond yields and credit spreads to rise both in the US and abroad. Higher borrowing rates are particularly inappropriate for the Eurozone which, unlike the US, is still struggling to emerge from recession. This tightening of financial conditions will place pressure on the ECB to act. Although surveys show that investors' bearishness on US government bonds is at an extreme level, suggesting that in the coming weeks bond yields are more likely to fall than rise, the longer-term trend in bond yields is now upwards. But we do not expect the rise in yields over the next two or three years to kill off the US recovery. Consequently, we believe that the US equity market is still on an upward uptrend, albeit one that will experience regular spikes in volatility as the Fed gradually moves away from its ultra-loose policy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The housing market is recovering, according to recent price and activity data. Post-crisis price corrections were smaller in the UK than in the US and much of Europe, and demand is now being bolstered by the government's Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes. This has given rise to some worries that the UK is in danger of inflating another house price bubble. While housing supply is very tight, we are not convinced that these schemes will have enough impact on demand to cause prices to take off.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Baldur Thorhallsso, Alyson J. K. Bailes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 at the height of the economic crisis. Four years later, a new government has put the application on hold: the majority of Icelanders are opposed to entry, but want to continue the accession process and put the results to a vote. Iceland's longer-standing problems with European integration stem from the issue of sovereignty in general, and maintaining control over fisheries and agriculture in particular. Since 2009, anti-European feelings have been stoked by the 'Icesave' dispute, while the prospective benefits of entry (including use of the euro) have been tarnished by witnessing the fate of other small states during the euro crisis. The new government proposes remaining a member of the EEA and developing relations with other world powers. But the US commitment to Iceland has weakened over the years, and 'rising' powers like China are unable, as yet, to solve the country's core problems. In terms of both its security and its standing within the global economy, Iceland is becoming more rather than less dependent on Europe over time. The question raised by the latest political turn is whether it will have to maintain that relationship from a distance, with limited control and with no guaranteed goodwill.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Teija Tiilikainen
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Safeguarding the EU's unity in the long-term development of the EMU is currently one of the major challenges for the Union. The de facto adjustments made to the EU's economic and fiscal powers due to the economic and financial crisis, including the completion of the Banking Union, create pressures to address the treaty-based division of powers and to strengthen the democratic control of the powers executed by the Union. The need to back the EU's macroeconomic goals with fiscal instruments has been made evident by the economic crisis; the position of these instruments outside the common budget might become increasingly controversial. A further increase in economic solidarity (jointly guaranteed debt, taxation power) might jeopardize the EU's stability and democratic legitimacy if carried out in the current political and institutional framework. A system of constitutional and fiscal federalism would produce a more stable outcome, but would require major changes in the EU's democratic system and system of policy implementation, in its external policies and the way its constitutional powers are arranged.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hadewych Hazelzet
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past two years, many high-level discussions within the EU have centred around the question of the 'added value' of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In times of fiscal austerity, member states want to make sure they invest their resources where their impact is strongest. In the current climate of financial crisis and retrenchment, there are no resources or time to waste on a 'beauty contest' between organisations or instruments. In order to prepare for the next decade of deployments, the question to ask is therefore not whether but under what conditions CSDP has brought added value, to date, in responding to given contingencies.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Policymakers, observers and the media have referred to a vast number of divisions in crisis-torn Europe. The EU is divided between north and south or creditors and debtors. Some have emphasised the emerged division between anti-EU and pro- EU forces. Significantly, these divisions are also manifested within the eurozone, in the form of the current differences between the French and German views, and the increasing role of the populist movements in many euro countries. Yet others have highlighted the boundary between the eurozone and the rest of the EU, and suggested that the euro countries now form the core of the Union. Relatedly, some of the non-euro members are distancing themselves from the EU – most notably the UK – while many others aim to secure their influence in the Union, even if euro membership may have been put on the back burner.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Patrick Nopens
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Three major geopolitical events are putting the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean at risk. Most of the region is in a deep monetary and economic crisis. The Arab Spring is causing turmoil in the Levant and the Maghreb. Gas and oil discoveries, if not well managed, could further destabilise the region. At the same time, Russia and Turkey are staging a comeback. In the face of these challenges, the EU approaches the Greek sovereign debt crisis nearly exclusively from a financial and economic viewpoint. This brief argues that the EU has to develop a comprehensive strategy for the region, complementing its existing multilateral regional framework with bilateral agreements in order to secure its interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Topic: Security, Debt, Oil, Regime Change, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Arabia
  • Author: Stijn Verhelst
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief argues that the envisaged design of the Banking Union risks not being sufficient to deal with the next large-scale financial crisis. Therefore, an "if all else fails" clause should be approved, stating that the Banking Union members can provide joint last resort financing to deal with a future crisis. An agreement on the clause should be feasible because it is beneficial to all Member States.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Samu Kurri
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The financial and economic crisis has reinforced the two-layer economic integration structure in the EU. Many of the new rules and structures created during the crisis have focused on a solution to the euro crisis and are thus euro area-specific. There is little evidence, however, that the situation would have dramatically changed compared to the Maastricht EMU. All of the changes are still in line with the basic idea that all EU countries will join the euro when they are ready to do so. One of the key questions in the near future is likely to centre on the contours of the euro area specific decision-making, its relationship to the EU as a whole, and its institutions and procedures. Even if the Euro group remains 'formally informal', it has managed to transform itself into a de facto institution within the EU, and its role and weight is likely to increase rather than decrease.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: There are three aggregate numbers that describe the problem the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is inheriting: the 130 banks under its direct supervision hold assets worth 250% of the euro area's GDP, their capital is equivalent to only 4% of their assets' value and they have made zero profits, in the aggregate, over the last four years.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andrea Renda
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: A lively debate emerged on the proposed "Connected Continent" legislative package presented by the European Commission in September 2013. The package contains a proposed rule on the 'open Internet', which was heavily discussed in European Parliament hearings in early December. This commentary argues that while the proposed rule is in principle balanced and appealing, it is utterly impractical due to the enormous uncertainty that its application would entail. At the same time, the rule is very far from what neutrality proponents have argued for almost a decade: rather than the place for internet freedom, it would transform the Web into a place requiring constant micro-management and tutoring of user behavior. Both arguments lead to the conclusion that the current proposal should be at once reformed and analysed under a more holistic lens. On the one hand, Europe should launch an ambitious project for the future, converged infrastructure by mobilising resources and reforming rules to encourage investment into ubiquitous, converged, 'always on' connectivity. On the other hand, enhanced legal certainty for broadband investment could justify a more neutrality-oriented approach to traffic management practices on the Internet. The author proposes a new approach to Internet regulation which, altogether, will lead to a more balanced and sustainable model for the future, without jeopardising user freedom.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Infrastructure, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Rym Ayadi, Willem Pieter De Groen
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The 2007-09 global financial crisis led to a virtual collapse in economic activity and increased financial volatility worldwide. For the developing countries, the main channel of transmission has been a drop in external transactions, such as trade, financial and capital flows, and remittances. The southern and eastern Mediterranean countries (SEMC) have also faced declining economic activity, although there seems to be considerable variation in the relative magnitudes and timing of the decline. Most of the economies in the Mediterranean basin have had delayed but longer-lasting consequences as a result of the crisis, driven mostly by their endemic trade and investment ties with the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe