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“Energy”: a cross-cutting influence on EU widening and deepening Economic & social policies
12/12/2008 19:24:45
A report on the workshop "Energy" held in Brussels, 12 November 2008 (D33)
2008/9 (The) EU budget review Economic & social policies
01/08/2007 18:20:05

Iain Begg
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 3
March 2007

A version of this paper has been published as chapter 3 of a volume on "Setting EU priorities" edited by Peter Ludlow on behalf of the European Strategy Forum.

Economic and Social Policies for an Expanding Europe Economic & social policies
26/10/2005 20:08:52

Leader: I. Begg


The core purpose of this work package has been to explore, explain, extrapolate and evaluate policy developments in key economic domains by analysing them as they evolve. Already, since EUCONSENT was launched, we have seen a widespread demand for new thinking about “what the EU is for” as an economic policy actor and where its limits should be drawn. In the aftermath of the no votes in the French and Dutch referenda and the re-launch of the Lisbon strategy, “economic Europe” seems to have taken a new direction with a greater focus on growth and employment and an implicit down-grading of “social Europe”. Yet in many countries there is evidence of a backlash against this shift, with many unanswered questions about how the social model(s) should evolve.

Economic and social policies are also confronted by well-known drivers of change that have to be taken into account in assessing European economic integration. Demographic trends that will lead to an ageing society accompanied by a marked shrinkage of the population in a number of countries will need far more radical policy responses than have been forthcoming to date. The rise of China and India as economic powers will lead to much more intense competition in global markets for goods, services and investment, but also to an accentuation of environmental pressures.

Governance issues arise in all the main domains of economic and social policy. How soon to accede to the Euro area is a challenge for the recently acceded Member States, but their arrival will also prompt questions about whether the system as a whole is suitably configured. An important aspect of the changes wrought since the Barroso Commission came to office is that Lisbon has become a dominant paradigm, with other policy areas – such as cohesion – expected now to exhibit greater focus on growth and employment, possibly at the expense of its traditional concern with equity. It is also evident that awkward questions remain about the character of EU economic policy-making. The Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact may have corrected some of the features that had attracted most criticism, but there is still concern in many quarters that the demandside is ill-equipped to confront the challenges posed by persistent unemployment in many Member States. Supply-side reforms have proceeded at different rates in different Member States, raising questions about whether the methodology of policy making (notably the resort to the Open Method of Co-ordination) is adequate. Here the relative success of some countries, including several of the recently acceded members, can offer interesting insights to others.

In the area of the internal market, the general objective of more open markets continues to guide policy, yet in many Member States opposition to, notably, the Services Directive has been considerable and the Directive that was eventually agreed was considerably watered-down. This suggests that the simultaneous widening and deepening can, by no means, be taken for granted, even if in some areas completion of the integration can be anticipated. One battle-ground is the EU budget where the overall size of the budget, burden-sharing and the composition of spending are all under scrutiny, yet where – so far – debate has been conducted in the shadow of the negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty and, now, its ratification or potential failure. New policy directions are also emerging around the themes of flexicurity, climate change and energy policy, with ramifications that stretch beyond the immediate agencies responsible for their implementation. At EU level, various ”mega-strategies” have been developed or re-launched since 2005, yet there is at times a lack of coherence between them, let alone with wider aims.

In line with the broader themes of the network, the work package will continue to investigate how widening and deepening influence policy trajectories and how the changing circumstances of the EU economy affect options. The wide geographical spread of the EU-CONSENT network will facilitate the pulling together of diverse perspectives on the nature of economic policy-making and the scope for reform. This will allow WP VI to explore the three overarching scenarios of (i) a more effective EU policy (ii) an accentuation of policy problems or (iii) a shift towards a new European policy architecture. Building on this richer understanding of how policy has been, and is being, shaped, proposals will be put forward for reform and new initiatives in the various domains, and these ideas will be complemented by active engagement in the policy debate. This will be a particular goal for the last year of EU-CONSENT and the work package will build on its strong connections with both national and EU-level policy-makers, in analysing and advancing these policy debates.

New literature:
New Budget, Old Dilemmas / Iain Begg and Friedrich Heinemann. - London : Centre for European Reform, February 2006 (CER Briefing Note)

EU (The) tax revisited: Should there be one? And will there be one? Economic & social policies
31/01/2008 18:36:16
Steffen Osterloh, Friedrich Heinemann and Philipp Mohl
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 6
February 2008
EU expenditure to support transitions to a low carbon economy Economic & social policies
05/05/2009 17:39:23
Iain Begg
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 9
May 2009
Facing the Monster ‘Juste Retour’ Economic & social policies
04/08/2008 16:54:20
On the Net Financial Position of Member States vis-à-vis the EU Budget and a Proposal for Reform
Sándor Richter
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 7
August 2008
Financial Perspective 2007-2013: Domination of National Interests Economic & social policies
01/08/2007 15:10:55
Mojmir Mrak and Vasja Rant
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 1
July 2007
Future (The) of cohesion policy Economic & social policies
26/04/2009 15:10:57
Paper based on the ‘brainstorming’ workshop:
‘The future of cohesion policy’, Brussels, 12/02/2009
organised by Iain Begg, LSE
Integrating the macro-economic dimension into the EU budget Economic & social policies
30/08/2007 11:47:34
Sebastian Dullien and Daniela Schwarzer
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 4
August 2007
On the character of the EU and its budget: Look into the future Economic & social policies
03/11/2008 17:55:35
Peter Wostner
EU-Consent EU-Budget Working Paper No. 8
October 2008
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