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EU Monitor

The series "EU Monitor" focuses on political, economic and monetary developments in the enlarged EU. The spectrum ranges from political commentaries and reform of the EU institutions to matters pertaining to the European Economic and Monetary Union, financial-market and banking aspects, and the consequences of enlargement for specific sectors and countries.

88 (61-70)
September 25, 2013
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The economic and financial crisis in Europe has led to a dwindling of the options for funding infrastructure projects. While funding conditions have deteriorated, a huge amount of investment needs to be made in infrastructure. The Project Bond Initiative (PBI) developed by the European Commission and the EIB is an instrument that is intended to help free up the investment logjam. The primary objective of the PBI is to persuade private-sector institutional investors to fund infrastructure projects. [more]
61
September 12, 2013
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Analyst:
In the current debate and the numerous initiatives surrounding the improvement of tax collection and cooperation on cross-border (investment) income it is vital to differentiate between two phenomena: one is the fight against (illegal) tax evasion (mainly on investment income) and the other is the legal, (often) so-called 'aggressive' tax planning via profit shifting. Efforts to establish the automatic exchange of information for tax purposes as the European and/or international standard are relatively advanced. 'Aggressive' tax planning, which enables the de facto tax exemption of profits, cannot be addressed by extending the scope of the exchange of information alone, however. [more]
62
September 4, 2013
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The idea of Banking Union has a sound economic rationale and would, if it were implemented in a consistent fashion, substantially strengthen financial stability in Europe and in the euro area in particular. However, the design and implementation of the EU Banking Union and its constituent components suffer from two very fundamental contradictions. On the one hand, there is schizophrenic attitude of member states with regard to the necessary degree of supra-nationality to preserve a financially stable internal market for financial services. And on the other, there are the contrasting expectations and motives of member states with regard to Banking Union. Member states and other European law makers still have the chance to put Banking Union on a sound footing. The chance should not be wasted. [more]
63
August 19, 2013
Region:
The prospects for an ambitious partnership agreement between the EU and the US are better than ever. An agreement would increase growth and employment in both regions. The greatest economic opportunities lie in improved cooperation in the regulation of markets for goods and services. Governments, parliaments and most interest groups on both sides are in a positive mood; the resistance to an agreement has thus far been limited to criticism of some details. The greatest political difficulties are likely to arise in the areas of agriculture and data protection. [more]
64
April 11, 2013
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The current crisis has demonstrated that the eurozone is still a very heterogeneous economic area. As the common monetary policy cannot stabilise a country which experiences an asymmetric shock, there is a growing debate about whether the architecture of the eurozone needs to be complemented by fiscal stabilisation instruments. While the synchronisation of business cycles and an effective absorption of regional shocks would be in the interest of all the euro countries, the main question is how this could be put into practice without creating undesirable incentives. After all, a deeper fiscal integration would hardly be manageable without redistribution components. [more]
65
January 31, 2013
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High investor demand is fuelling corporate bond issuance in the EU. Deleveraging in some countries and the fact that some banks are paying roughly the same or even higher rates for their refinancing than their customers no doubt has pushed corporate debt markets. But the main driver for the high issuance volumes seems to be investors’ search for yield in a low interest rate environment. As sovereign bonds are offering historically low yields, corporate bonds have turned into a significant investment alternative in the present market conditions. However, in an era of Knightian uncertainty and high liquidity, strong growth in corporate bond market calls for attention to potential overheating. [more]
66
November 27, 2012
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For the EU members that have ratified it, the Fiscal Compact is set to come into force at the beginning of 2013. Among other things, the signatories to the Compact pledge to introduce a debt brake at the national level by 2014. Our progress report shows that numerous euro countries have already implemented debt brakes, five of which have constitutional status. Others, by contrast, still have to provide evidence that they are serious about the institutional anchoring of sound fiscal policy. [more]
67
November 20, 2012
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The political dynamics in Europe have shifted against universal banks in recent months. This is a dangerous development that threatens the key role such banks play in modern economies and risks eliminating many of the advantages universal banks have to offer: in a “one-stop shop”, they provide their customers with a broad range of tailor-made services, higher volumes of credit and lower funding costs than narrower “specialist banks”. In addition, thanks to the diversification of their operations and the potential to leverage revenue and cost synergies, universal banks tend to be more stable than specialist banks. They also provide for diversity in bank business models and are better positioned to monitor the financial health of specific clients as well as to spot unsustainable risk accumulation across financial markets. [more]
68
November 14, 2012
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Since the start of 2011 the financial and sovereign debt crises have forced roughly half the governments in the euro area to accept a premature end to their term of office. So far, the elections in the crisis countries have established the conservative camp as the clear winner at the polls. The established major parties continue to dominate the political system in many countries. Nevertheless, the electoral successes of right-wing populist and newly established left-wing factions may hamper the formation of properly functioning governments in future. If the economic outlook for the young generation does not improve, this trend could continue. [more]
69
October 5, 2012
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Analyst:
Since the financial crisis, the countries of Europe have been faced with the difficult challenge of consolidating their budgets while at the same time promoting economic growth. One approach is a growth-conducive tax system, which keeps distorting effects of taxation on the growth factors – labour, capital and technological progress – as small as possible. Tax reforms carried out in the EU to date are steps in the right direction. Increasing economic policy coordination in Europe offers the chance to implement further structural reforms. [more]
70
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