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  • Author: Daniel Gros, Matthias Busse
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) was designed to prevent the emergence of imbalances like the large and persistent current account deficits that occurred in Spain and Ireland. But within this mechanism, a current account surplus is also viewed as a source of concern. Indeed, last year's Alert Mechanism Report (AMR), issued by the European Commission signalled an excessive current account surplus for the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while Germany just barely scraped by with a 5.9% surplus, marginally evading the 6% threshold (over a 3-year average). With the most recent report, however, Germany's status has changed. Along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, it too has now been singled out as a euro-area country with a surplus above the upper threshold.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Paul De Grauwe
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: One of the major problems of the eurozone is the divergence of the competitive positions that have built up since the early 2000s. This divergence has led to major imbalances in the eurozone where the countries that have seen their competitive positions deteriorate (mainly the so - called ' PIIGS ' – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain ) have accumulated large current account deficits and thus external indebtedness, matched by current account surpluses of the countries that have improved their competitive positions (mainly Germany).
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Once again the European Council will meet in an emergency session at the end of June, with the eurozone economy in recession and actually plummeting in its Southern periphery. Further doubts are also growing on the sustainability of sovereign debts due to the vicious spiral of deteriorating bank balance sheets, ballooning potential liabilities from banking rescues and widening spreads on government borrowings. The sovereign debt crisis in the periphery has now turned into a fully fledged banking crisis that threatens to spread from Greece to Spain and tomorrow, who knows, to Italy, France and even Germany itself.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, France, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Thomas Mayer
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: For most of the time since the early 1950s, national savings in Germany have tended to exceed national investment, resulting in a current account surplus. Most of these excess savings have been intermediated by the domestic banking system, which has had difficulties investing these German surpluses abroad given that it is prohibited by law from taking any exchange rate risk. This tended to keep the surplus within limits most of the time (less than 1- 2% of GDP). With the advent of the euro, however, German surpluses could become much larger and seem now to have become structurally engrained at 6% of GDP, or over one-quarter of savings. Since the start of the euro crisis, German private savers have repatriated their investments – effectively unloading their exposure onto the public sector as German banks have deposited hundreds of billions of euro at the Bundesbank. These funds are being lent by the ECB to banks in the euro area periphery (at 75 bps) – ensuring effectively a negative real return.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Stefano Micossi, Fabrizia Peirce, Jacopo Carmassi
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: In recent weeks pressures on the euro and eurozone sovereign debtors have subsided. Buoyant growth in the global economy, increasingly benefiting also the European economy, has of course played an important role in calming financial markets. But even more important has been the perception that France and Germany are again working constructively for a strong economic Europe. More broadly, the acute turbulence in financial markets since the spring of 2010 may have finally convinced our political leaders, notably including the German political establishment, that the benefits of a stable currency far outweigh the costs that may have to be borne to make it work properly. The euro will only be trusted if the member states effectively coordinate their economic policies not only to ensure fiscal stability, but also to eliminate persistent divergences in productivity leading to unsustainable imbalances between national savings and investment (Schäuble, 2011).
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Some eighteen months after the first Greek rescue (May 2010), there is little doubt that the multiple attempts at crisis management in the eurozone have failed to restore confidence. Indeed, following each round of emergency measures agreed by the eurozone summits, matters have turned for the worse (see Figure 1 for the widening spreads, over the German Bund, for sovereign borrowing in the eurozone). At the time of writing, contagion has spread beyond Spain and Italy to the core sovereigns, with France close to losing its triple A rating and even Germany experiencing partial failure in a Bund auction on November 23rd. Spreads are also opening up for Austria, Belgium, Finland and even the virtuous Netherlands. Meanwhile, the banking system Europe- wide is under increasing strain, with term funding all but closed for any bank with significant exposure to distressed sovereign debtors and the interbank market close to seizing up. Deposit withdrawals have surfaced in a number of large banks from the periphery. The euro has started to weaken in foreign exchange markets, narrowing the room for a distinction between eurozone debt crisis and euro-currency crisis from which some observers were until recently drawing comfort.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Piotr Maciej Kaczyński, Peadar ó Broin
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: It has only been one year since the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force and already there is a stack of pending issues requiring primary law change in the EU. The Franco-German Deauville Declaration of 18 October 2010 is probably the most politically prominent of them all, yet it is not the first, nor will it be the last in a long, incremental process of constant treaty revision similar to the national process of amending national constitutions. All of these proposals have one feature in common: none of them is an overarching treaty change and each one is designed in such a way that amends only one element of the system. This, in theory, should avoid the need to submit the change to public referenda in the EU as part of the ratification process.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Lisbon
  • Author: Nargis Kassenova
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The German Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2007 inspired great hopes regarding the development of relations between the European Union and the states of Central Asia. In Brussels and other European capitals, it was expected that Germany, as an EU political and economic heavyweight and one of the key promoters of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, would be able to foster a coordinated Central Asian policy giving direction and coherence to European engagement in the region. It was widely hoped – within both the governments of Central Asia and the societies of the region – that Germany, which has traditionally been the most pro-active European country in the region, would elevate the relations between the EU and Central Asian states to a higher level.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central Asia, Asia, Germany
  • Author: Keith C. Smith
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Russia's tough stance towards Ukraine on natural gas prices was viewed by many in Europe and the United States as raising new issues concerning Russia's foreign economic policies and growing European and US dependency on energy imports. For many new EU member states and for countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, however, this is an old problem. Central European attempts to flag the issue in Western capitals have until now been brushed aside. The rapid approval by the EU Commission of the Russian-German undersea gas pipeline project was a mistake. The concerns of the Central Europeans should have been examined in more detail. Western governments would also be wise to analyse more closely the political and security implications of Russia's energy policies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Asia, Germany
  • Author: Gabriela Martin Thornton
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, quickly followed by German reunification, scholars of the European Union have emphasised that one of the most salient consequences of these events would be the enlargement of the European Union. Many have claimed that enlargement would mean galvanising the German power within the European Union, by placing Germany at the geographical heart of Europe. Enlargement was perceived either as undermining the Franco-German relationship, or even more, as replacing it by increased German connections with Eastern European countries (Braun, 1996, p. 158). The IGC in Nice struggled to reform the EU institutions in order to accommodate future members. The Treaty of Nice has generated fear within certain Western circles. Some political analysts already announced the end of Jean Monnet's “Europe”, the triumph of Germany, and with the future inclusion of Central and East European countries (CEECs), the birth of a “Europe” less “European”. Since Nice, a sea of metaphors has sparkled over the Western European newspapers with regard to “the return to Europe” of the CEECs. Nonetheless, many scholars seem to agree with Stanley Hoffman who points out that the expansion toward the east is seen as necessary in order “to provide stability in the more troublesome part of the continent and in order to protect fledgling democracy there.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Berlin