How could the Stability and Growth Pact be simplified?

23-04-2018

An assessment of the present SGP fiscal rules reveals a significant deterioration in simplicity, undermining their effectiveness. In fact, in both design and process, they have become the most complex worldwide. Three options for future reform are offered to correct this deficiency. Under the first, the structural balance and the debt convergence targets are replaced with a debt-stabilizing or -reducing primary surplus target, while retaining the expenditure benchmark. The second consolidates all current rules into a single operational debt rule by setting a limit on the discretionary budget deficit, derived from the debt reduction target. The third option consists of a market-based approach, inspired by the oldest and most successful subnational fiscal frameworks.

An assessment of the present SGP fiscal rules reveals a significant deterioration in simplicity, undermining their effectiveness. In fact, in both design and process, they have become the most complex worldwide. Three options for future reform are offered to correct this deficiency. Under the first, the structural balance and the debt convergence targets are replaced with a debt-stabilizing or -reducing primary surplus target, while retaining the expenditure benchmark. The second consolidates all current rules into a single operational debt rule by setting a limit on the discretionary budget deficit, derived from the debt reduction target. The third option consists of a market-based approach, inspired by the oldest and most successful subnational fiscal frameworks.