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  • Author: Gregory Claeys, Guntram B. Wolff
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The euro never challenged the US dollar, and its international status declined with the euro crisis. Faced with a US administration willing to use its hegemonic currency to extend its domestic policies beyond its borders, Europe is reflecting on how to promote it currency on the global stage to ensure its autonomy. But promoting a more prominent role for the euro is difficult and involves far-reaching changes to the fabric of the monetary union.
  • Topic: Health, European Union, Currency, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Dirk Schoenmaker, Svend E. Hougaard Jensen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Though outside the euro area, Denmark and Sweden could benefit from joining the European Union’s banking union. It would provide protection in case of any need to resolve at national level a large bank with a Scandinavian footprint, and would mark a choice in favour of more cross-border banking. But joining the banking union would also involve some loss of decision-making power.
  • Topic: Markets, European Union, Economy, Banks
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark, Sweden
  • Author: Marek Dabrowski, Marta Dominguez-Jimenez, Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Since the Euromaidan protests (2013-2014), Ukraine has had two presidents and four governments. In a difficult environment of external aggression, they have initiated various reforms aimed at bringing the country closer to the European Union and boosting growth. Progress has been partial and relies on international backing, with limited domestic appetite for reform.
  • Topic: Corruption, Privatization, Foreign Aid, Governance, Reform, European Union, Finance, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Maria Demertzis, Marta Dominguez-Jimenez, Annamaria Lusardi
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The concept of household financial fragility emerged in the United States after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It grew out of the need to understand whether households’ lack of capacity to face shocks could itself become a source of financial instability.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Finance, Macroeconomics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Ben McWilliams, Simone Tagliapietra, Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: In the wake of COVID-19, some economic recovery policies will help green the economy – for example, energy renovation of buildings. But there are limits to the share of stimulus that can be explicitly green. The European Union should therefore also green the fiscal consolidation by setting out the path to much higher carbon prices than today. This would guide investment and provide revenues to help the fiscal consolidation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, European Union, Economy, Renewable Energy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir, Simone Tagliapietra, Guntram B. Wolff
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: 'Whatever it takes' needs to be the motto to preserve lives and reduce the impact on the economy of the epidemic.
  • Topic: Governance, Economy, Central Bank, Macroeconomics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Reinhilde Veugelers, Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: This Policy Contribution proposes a staged support scheme to tackle the COVID-19 vaccine challenge and a moon shot programme to meet the challenge of future pandemics.
  • Topic: Health, Science and Technology, Innovation, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Rebecca Christie, Thomas Wieser
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: In the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom over their future relationship, we see a high probability of a weak contractual outcome, given the dominance of politics over considerations of market efficiency.
  • Topic: Markets, Governance, Europe , Brexit, Negotiation, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Julia Anderson, Simone Tagliapietra, Guntram B. Wolff
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has triggered a severe recession and policymakers in European Union countries are providing generous, largely indiscriminate, support to companies. As the recession gets deeper, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. This should be based on four principles: viability of supported entities, fairness, achieving societal goals, and giving society a share in future profits. The effort should be structured around equity and recovery funds with borrowing at EU level.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Global Recession, European Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Gregory Claeys
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: To keep the euro-area economy afloat, the European Central Bank has put in place a large number of measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. This response has triggered fears of a future increase in inflation. However, the ECB's new measures and the resulting increase in the size of its balance sheet, even if it were to be permanent, should not restrict its ability to achieve its price-stability mandate, within its legal obligations.
  • Topic: Governance, Central Bank, Macroeconomics, Judiciary, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alicia Garcia-Herrero, Elina Ribakova
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: COVID-19 is by far the biggest challenge policymakers in emerging economies have had to deal with in recent history. Beyond the potentially large negative impact on these countries’ fiscal accounts, and the related solvency issues, worsening conditions for these countries’ external funding are a major challenge.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Regulation, Finance, Economy, Central Bank, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Ben McWilliams, Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The European Commission should not make the implementation of a carbon border adjustment mechanism into a must-have element of its climate policy. There is little in the way of strong empirical evidence that would justify a carbon-adjustment measure. Moreover, significant logistical, legal and political challenges will arise during the design. The EU should instead focus upon the implementation of measures to trigger the development of a competitive low-carbon industry in Europe.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, European Union, Trade Policy, Carbon Tax
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alienor Cameron, Gregory Claeys, Catarina Midoes, Simone Tagliapietra
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: On 14 January 2020, the European Commission published its proposal for a Just Transition Mechanism, intended to provide support to territories facing serious socioeconomic challenges related to the transition towards climate neutrality. This brief provides an overview and a critical assessment of the first pillar of this Mechanism, the Just Transition Fund (JTF).
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Budget, European Union, Macroeconomics, Renewable Energy, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Marta Dominguez-Jimenez, Niclas Poitiers
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Most foreign direct investment into Russia originates in the European Union: European investors own between 55 percent and 75 percent of Russian FDI stock. This points to a Russian dependence on European investment, making the EU paramount for Russian medium-term growth. Even if we consider ‘phantom’ FDI that transits through Europe, the EU remains the primary investor in Russia. Most phantom FDI into Russia is believed to originate from Russia itself and thus is by construction not foreign.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Sanctions, European Union, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Zsolt Darvas, Marta Dominguez-Jimenez, Guntram B. Wolff
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The European Central Bank’s November 2019 Financial Stability Review highlighted the risks to growth in an environment of global uncertainty. On the whole, the ECB report is comprehensive and covers the main risks to euro-area financial stability, we highlight issues that deserve more attention.
  • Topic: Governance, Finance, Central Bank, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Leonardo Cadamuro, Francesco Papadia
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: This Policy Contribution tests the hypothesis that an imbalance has grown in Europe over the last few decades because markets have integrated to a greater extent than European-level policymaking, potentially creating difficulties for the democratic process in managing the economy. This hypothesis has been put forward by several authors but not so far tested empirically.
  • Topic: Markets, Governance, Democracy, Regional Integration, Macroeconomics, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Matthew Heim
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: This Policy Contribution considers whether European competition law could be applied more directly to state owned enterprises that create an unlevel playing field in Europe due to the support they receive from their home governments. This issue is now a priority for many Member States and the European Commission given the impact on European economic autonomy. Competition law may not be the appropriate tool for addressing the granting of illegal subsidies or other forms of support in third countries but it may be more effective than previously thought in dealing with the effect of state-owned entities that distort the internal market. If SOEs are not be resource-constrained or even profit maximising, such SOEs could be unconstrained by competitive pressures and therefore possess a de facto level of market power. By evolving existing exclusionary antitrust theories of harm, such as predatory pricing, to fit the specificities of SOEs, this Policy Contribution argues that it should be possible to add further tools to the EU’s toolbox. In any event, as part of its efforts to address the distortive effects of foreign state ownership and subsidies in the internal market, the Commission should develop a coherent and proactive competition policy to provide guidance to the market.
  • Topic: Markets, Governance, Macroeconomics, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Reinhilde De Veugelers
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Using new evidence on the digitalisation activities of firms in the European Union and the United States, we document a trend towards digital polarisation based on firms’ use of the latest digital technologies and their plans for future investment in digitalisation. A substantial share of firms are not implementing any state-of-the-art digital technologies and do not have plans to invest in digitalisation. However, there is also a substantial share of firms that are already partially or even fully implementing state-of-the-art digital technologies in their businesses and that plan to further increase their digitalisation investments. Small Manufacturing firms and old small firms in services are significantly more likely to be and remain non-active in terms of digitalisation. Our results do not provide any evidence that EU firms are more likely than their US counterparts to be stuck on the wrong side of the digitalisation divide. Taking into account firm size and firm age, there are no significant differences between the EU and the US in terms of having more or fewer persistently non-digital firms. As persistently digitally-inactive firms are also less likely to be innovative, to add employees or to command higher mark-ups, it is important for policymaking to remove barriers that trap these firms in persistent digital inactivity. Lack of access to finance is a major barrier for EU firms compared to their US counterparts, particularly for the EU’s persistently non-digital firms, and especially for older, smaller companies in services. Improving their access to finance might therefore go a long way towards addressing the corporate digitalisation divide in the EU.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Innovation, Strategic Competition, Digital Revolution
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: We argue that energy relations between the EU and Russia and between China and Russia influence each other. We analyse their interactions in terms of four areas: oil and gas trading, electricity exchanges, energy technology exports and energy investments. We discuss five key hypotheses that describe the likely developments in these four areas in the next decade and their potential impact on Europe: 1. There is no direct competition between the EU and China for Russian oil and gas 2. China and the EU both have an interest in curbing excessive Russian energy rents 3. The EU, Russia and China compete on the global energy technology market, but specialise in different technologies 4. Intercontinental electricity exchange is unlikely 5. Russia seems more worried about Chinese energy investments with strategic/political goals, than about EU investments We find no evidence of a negative spillover for the EU from the developing Russia-China energy relationship. But, eventually, if these risks – and in particular the risk of structural financial disintermediation – do materialise, central banks would have various instruments to counter them.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Oil, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe
  • Author: Gregory Claeys, Maria Demertzis
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Four major developments have challenged the status quo and reopened the debate on the forms that money will take in the future: 1) use of cash as a medium of exchange has declined; 2) distributed ledger technology (DLT) has led to the emergence of thousands of digital cryptocurrencies; 3) some global tech giants are planning to provide private digital currencies to their billions of users in the form of stablecoins; and 4) in turn, public authorities are thinking about providing their own digital currencies to the general public. These developments raise questions about the implications for financial stability, the transmission of monetary policy and financial intermediation. This Policy Contribution focuses on the consequences stablecoins and central bank digital currencies could have. Stablecoins, such as Facebook’s Libra, differ from earlier generations of cryptocurrencies in three fundamental ways. First, they would start with large networks of users and global accessibility, two pivotal features for the critical uptake of a new currency. Second, given the current limitations of DLT, including in terms of energy efficiency, new stablecoins would rely on (more) centralised systems to validate transactions. Third, stablecoins would focus particularly on reducing the volatility in the value of the new currency. These new features of stablecoins attempt to correct some of the critical deficiencies identified in first-generation cryptocurrencies, which meant they did not acquire the main functions of money. However, new stablecoins raise other questions and potentially create new problems. One issue could arise from the more centralised (permissioned) validation system, which could lead to collusion problems. Another issue could arise from the reserve system that is supposed to ensure the stability of stablecoins, such as Libra, which could be incompatible with the profit maximisation behaviour of a private issuer. Facebook’s Libra plan has been a wake-up call to central banks and governments which, afraid of losing their monetary sovereignty, have renewed their interest in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) as a potential solution. CBDCs could make private digital currencies less attractive and slow down their adoption. But there are other reasons to give the general public access to central bank liabilities. One important reason to provide CBDCs to citizens is that if cash disappears, citizens will lose direct access to sovereign money. Another benefit of the introduction of CBDCs is that monetary policy could be strengthened by transmitting it directly to the general public. However, the introduction of CBDCs could also be disruptive and create risks. In particular, CBDCs could have major consequences for financial intermediation. These risks would have to be evaluated by policymakers before any decisions are taken. If CBDCs are introduced, central banks would have to carefully calibrate their properties to minimise these risks. But, eventually, if these risks – and in particular the risk of structural financial disintermediation – do materialise, central banks would have various instruments to counter them.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Central Bank, Currency, Cryptocurrencies, European Parliament
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alexander Lehmann
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The deep involvement of a number of euro-area banking groups in central and southeastern Europe has benefitted the host countries and has strengthened the resilience of those banking groups. But this integration has become less close because of post-financial crisis national rules that require banks to hold more capital at home, or other ring-fencing measures. There is a risk integration might be undermined further by bank resolution planning, which is now gathering pace. Regulators and banks will need to decide between two distinct models for crisis resolution, and this choice will redefine banking networks. Most efficient in terms of preserving capital and the close integration of subsidiary operations would be if the Single Resolution Board – the banking union’s central resolution authority – takes the lead for the entire banking group. However, this will require parent banks to hold the subordinated debts of their subsidiaries. Persistent barriers to intra-group capital mobility – or the option for home or host authorities to impose such restrictions – will ultimately render such schemes unworkable. The second model would involve independent local intervention schemes, which European Union countries outside the banking union are likely to call for. This will require building capacity in local debt markets, and clarifying creditor hierarchies. Exposure to banking risks will ultimately need to be borne by host-country investors. Bail-in capital issued by subsidiaries to their parents cannot be a substitute because it would expose the home country to financial contagion from the host. To sustain cross-border linkages, banking groups and their supervisors will need to make bank recovery plans more credible, and to strengthen cooperation in resolution colleges (platforms that bring together all relevant parties in resolution planning and execution). Within the banking union there is no justification for the various ring-fencing measures that have impeded the flow of capital and liquidity within banking groups.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Regulation, Banks, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Uuriintuya Batsaikhan, Robert Kalcik, Dirk Schoenmaker
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: London is an international financial centre, serving European and global clients. A hard Brexit would lead to a partial migration of financial firms from London to the EU27 (EU minus UK) to ensure they can continue to serve their EU27 clients. Four major cities will host most of the new EU27 wholesale markets: Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam. These cities have far fewer people employed in finance than London. Moreover, they host the European headquarters of fewer large companies. The partial migra- tion of financial firms will thus have a major impact on these cities and their infrastructures. Banks are the key players in wholesale markets. United States and Swiss investment banks, together with one large German and three large French banks, will make up the core of the new EU27 wholesale markets. Some Dutch, Italian and Spanish banks are in the second tier. The forex, securities and derivatives trading markets are now in London. We map the current, limited market share of the four major cities that might host the EU27 client business. The expected migration of financial trading will lead to a large increase in trading capacity (eg bank trading floors). Clearing is the backbone of modern financial markets. A comparative overview of clearing facilities in the EU27 shows that Germany and France have some clearing capacity, but this will need to be expanded. The ownership of clearing is often intertwined with stock exchanges. Were the planned LSE-Deutsche Börse merger to go ahead, LSE would sell the Paris subsidiary of its clearinghouse. In terms of legal systems, there is an expectation that trading activities will be able to continue under English contract law, also in the EU27. A particular challenge is to develop FinTech (financial technology) in the EU27, as this innovative part of the market is currently based in London. We estimate that some 30,000 jobs might move from London to the EU27. This will put pressure on the facilities (infrastructure, offices, residential housing) in the recipient cities. The more the European Union market for financial services is integrated, the less need there will be for financial firms to move to one location, reducing the pressure for all facilities to be in one city (see Sapir et al, 2017, which is a companion piece to this paper).
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir, Guntram Wolff
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The United States is the European Union’s most important trade and bilateral investment partner, which has, until now, supported a multilateral trade system and European integration and has provided a security guarantee to the countries of the EU. But like other advanced economies, the US’s relative weight in the global economy has declined. The new US administration seems intent on replacing multilateralism with bilateral deals. In trade, it aims to secure new trade deals in order to reduce bilateral trade deficits and to protect, in particular, the US manufacturing sector. In climate policy, the US commitment to the Paris Agreement is being questioned. In defence, the security umbrella appears less certain than previously. The overall promise behind this change of direction is to put ‘America first’ and deliver better results for US citizens.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Multilateral Relatons, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Andre Sapir, Dirk Schoenmaker, Nicolas Veron
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union creates an opportunity for the remaining EU27 to accelerate the development of its financial markets and to increase its resilience against shocks. Equally, Brexit involves risks for market integrity and stability, because the EU including the UK has been crucially dependent on the Bank of England and the UK Financial Conduct Authority for oversight of its wholesale markets. Without the UK, the EU27 must swiftly upgrade its capacity to ensure market integrity and financial stability. Furthermore, losing even partial access to the efficient London financial centre could entail a loss of efficiency for the EU27 economy, especially if financial developments inside the EU27 remain limited and uneven.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Political stability, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Robert Kalcik, Guntram Wolff
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Brexit offers a political opportunity for the European Parliament to reform the allocation of seats to member states. This Policy Contribution explores different options for reform and their implications for equality of representation and distribution of seats to countries, within the constraints set by the EU treaties.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Affairs, Political Theory, European Union, Democracy, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Zsolt Darvus
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The ‘poverty’ target set by the European Commission aims to lift “over 20 million people out of poverty” between 2008 and 2020 in the EU27. Progress to date against this target has been disappointing. Why is it so hard to reach the Europe 2020 ‘poverty’ target? What does the poverty indicator actually measure?
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Dirk Schoenmaker
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: What are the arguments for and against centralisation of insurance supervision? What would be the scope of a possible insurance union, and what would the legal basis be? How rapid should the move to insurance union be? This Policy Brief sets out to answer these questions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe