Tag Archives: Deficit

Surveillance of budgetary policies

Surveillance of budgetary policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Surveillance of budgetary policies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Economic and monetary affairs > Stability and growth pact and economic policy coordination

Surveillance of budgetary policies

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 of 7 July 1997 on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary positions and the surveillance and coordination of economic policies [See amending acts].

Summary

This Regulation constitutes the preventive arm of the stability and growth pact. It aims to monitor and coordinate Member States’ budgetary policies, by way of a preventive measure to ensure budgetary discipline within the European Union.

To this end, the Regulation provides for a European Semester at the start of each year to assist Member States in putting in place healthy budgetary policies. Member States submit to the Commission stability programmes (for Member States in the euro zone) and convergence programmes (for Member States outside the euro zone) in which they adopt medium-term budgetary objectives. These programmes are assessed by the Commission and are the subject of specific Council recommendations for each State.

European Semester for economic policy coordination

The European Semester comprises a six-month period during which Member States’ budgetary policies are examined.

At the start of the Semester, the Council shall identify the key economic challenges for the European Union (EU) and provide Member States with strategic policy guidelines to be followed.

Subsequently, and on the basis of these guidelines, Member States shall establish:

  • their stability or convergence programmes under this Regulation;
  • their national reform programmes, in line with broad guidelines for economic policy and guidelines for employment policies.

At the end of the European Semester and following an assessment of the programmes, the Council sends recommendations to each Member State. Based on the Commission’s Opinion, the Council thus makes known its assessments before Member States draw up their final budgets for the following year.

Medium-term budgetary objectives

Each Member State has a medium-term deficit objective for its budgetary position, defined in structural terms. The medium-term objectives differ between Member States: they are more stringent where the level of debt and estimated costs of an ageing population are higher.

For the Member States that have adopted the euro and for those participating in the ERM 2 at over – 1 % of GDP, the medium-term objectives may be revised when a major structural reform is undertaken or every three years, when forecasts are published enabling the estimated costs of ageing populations to be updated.

Multilateral surveillance: stability and convergence programmes

The stability and convergence programmes serve as a basis for multilateral surveillance by the Council of the EU. This surveillance, provided for in Article 121 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU should prevent, at an early stage, the occurrence of excessive public deficits and promote the coordination of economic policies.

Each Member State must present the Council of the EU and the Commission with a stability programme (for Member States in the euro zone) or a convergence programme (for Member States outside the euro zone).

Stability or convergence programmes must include the following information:

  • the medium-term budgetary objective, an adjustment path for achieving the objective, government balance as a percentage of GDP, the foreseeable trend for the government debt ratio, the growth rate planned for government expenditure, the growth path of government revenue at unchanged policy, and quantified discretionary revenue measures. In addition, convergence programmes have to state the relationship between these objectives and price and exchange rate stability, as well as the medium-term objectives of monetary policy;
  • information on implicit liabilities related to ageing, and contingent liabilities (such as public guarantees) with a potentially large impact on government accounts;
  • information on the consistency of the programmes with the broad economic policy guidelines and the national reform programmes;
  • the main assumptions underlying the economic outlook, which are likely to influence the realisation of the stability and convergence programmes (growth, employment, inflation and other important variables);
  • an assessment and a detailed analysis of the budgetary measures and other economic policy measures – taken or envisaged – of relevance in achieving the programme’s aims;
  • an analysis of how changes in the main economic assumptions would affect the budgetary and debt positions;
  • where applicable, the reasons for a deviation from the adjustment path needed to achieve the medium-term budgetary objective.

Stability and convergence programmes must be submitted every year during the month of April. They are published by the Member States.

Examination of the stability and convergence programmes

On the basis of assessments by the Commission and the Economic and Financial Committee, the Council examines the medium-term budgetary objectives presented by Member States in their programmes. It checks in particular:

  • whether the medium-term budgetary objective is based on plausible economic assumptions;
  • whether the measures taken or envisaged are sufficient to achieve the budgetary objective;
  • whether an assessment of the adjustment path shows that the Member State concerned is seeking to improve its (cyclically adjusted) budgetary balance year-on-year;
  • whether annual growth in government expenditure by the Member State concerned is not too high – i.e. does not exceed a benchmark rate in the medium term.

When making its assessments, the Council must take account of the implementation of major structural reforms, especially pension reforms.

The Council is to examine the programme within three months of its submission. On a recommendation from the Commission and after consulting the Economic and Financial Committee, the Council delivers an opinion on the programme. Where it considers that the objectives and content of a programme should be strengthened, the Council can invite the Member State concerned to adjust it.

Avoiding the occurrence of an excessive deficit: the early warning mechanism

As part of multilateral surveillance, the Council monitors the implementation of stability and convergence programmes on the basis of information provided by the Member States and assessments carried out by the Commission and the Economic and Financial Committee.

Thus, if the Commission identifies a significant divergence from the medium-term budgetary objective or from the adjustment path that should lead to that objective being achieved, it will address recommendations to the Member State concerned to prevent the occurrence of an excessive deficit (early warning mechanism, Article 121(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).

Furthermore, recommendations adopted in the Council may be made public.

Context

The stability and growth pact is a set of rules putting in place economic and budgetary surveillance at European level. The objective is to guarantee the economic and financial stability of the EU.

Member States must therefore apply healthy budgetary policies in order to avoid the occurrence of excessive government deficits which might endanger the economic and financial stability of the EU.

In 2011, the stability and growth pact was the subject of extensive reforms. The new measures adopted are an important step in guaranteeing budgetary discipline, promoting the stability of the European economy and preventing another crisis within the Union.

The stability and growth pact now includes six legislative acts which entered into force on 13 December 2011:

  • Regulation (EU) No 1173/2011 on the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the euro area;
  • Regulation (EU) No 1174/2011 on enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the euro area;
  • Regulation (EU) No 1175/2011 amending this Regulation on surveillance procedures for budgetary positions;
  • Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances;
  • Regulation (EU) No 1177/2011 amending the procedure on excessive deficits;
  • Directive No 2011/85/EU on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1466/97

1.7.1998

OJ L 209 of 2.8.1997

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1055/2005

27.7.2005

OJ L 174 of 7.7.2005

Regulation (EU) No 1175/2011

13.12.2011

OJ L 306 of 23.11.2011

 

The corrective arm: the excessive deficit procedure

The corrective arm: the excessive deficit procedure

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The corrective arm: the excessive deficit procedure

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Economic and monetary affairs > Stability and growth pact and economic policy coordination

The corrective arm: the excessive deficit procedure

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 of 7 July 1997 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure [Official Journal L 209 of 2 August 1997] [See amending acts].

Summary

The aim of this Regulation is to clarify and speed up the excessive deficit procedure provided for in Article 126 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU) (formerly Article 104 of the Treaty on the European Community). The emergence of excessive deficits must be prevented and rapidly corrected.

The reference value: 3 % of GDP

As set out in the Protocol on the excessive deficit procedure annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992), the reference value for government deficit is 3 % of gross domestic product (GDP). A deficit exceeding this value is considered exceptional when:

  • it results from an unusual event outside the control of the Member State concerned which has a major impact on the financial position of the government;
  • it results from a severe economic downturn (if the excess over 3 % of GDP is the result of negative annual GDP growth or a cumulative fall in production over a prolonged period of very low annual growth).

Moreover, the excess over the reference value is considered temporary if the European Commission’s budget forecasts state that the deficit will fall below the reference value when the unusual circumstance or serious downturn is over.

The existence of an excessive deficit: considering all factors

The European Commission carries out an assessment, and the Council of the European Union decides whether or not there is an excessive deficit. The Commission prepares a report and must take all relevant factors into account.

The relevant factors include:

  • developments in the medium-term economic position (potential growth);
  • prevailing cyclical conditions;
  • the implementation of policies aimed at encouraging research and innovation;
  • developments in the medium-term budgetary position, particularly fiscal consolidation efforts in “good times”;
  • reform of retirement pension schemes.

The European institutions are also required to give due consideration to any other factors which, in the opinion of the Member State concerned, are relevant for assessing the excess over the reference value.

The excessive deficit procedure

7. Commission Report. Within two weeks of the Commission adopting the report it draws up if a Member State does not fulfil the criteria laid down in Article 126 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the Economic and Financial Committee formulates an opinion.

The Commission takes this opinion into account and, if it considers an excessive deficit to exist, addresses an opinion to the Member State concerned. It also informs the Council.

Council Recommendation

On the basis of the Commission’s opinion, the Council decides, by a qualified majority, whether an excessive deficit exists. The Council also considers any observations made by the Member State concerned.

If the Council decides that an excessive deficit exists, when it makes that decision, it issues recommendations to the Member State concerned. The Council establishes a deadline of no more than six months for effective action to be taken. The correction of the excessive deficit should be completed in the year following its identification, unless there are special circumstances. In its recommendations, the Council is to request the Member State to achieve a minimum annual improvement of at least 0.5 % of GDP as a benchmark.

If unexpected adverse economic events with major unfavourable consequences for government finances occur after the adoption of the Council’s recommendations, and if the Member State concerned has acted in accordance with the recommendations, the Council may adopt revised recommendations.

Where no effective action has been taken within six months of the identification of an excessive deficit, the Council decides whether to make its recommendations public. When considering whether effective action has been taken in response to its recommendations, the Council bases its decision on the public declarations of the Member State concerned.

Formal notice and sanctions. Within two months of its decision establishing that no effective action has been taken, the Council may give notice to the Member State concerned to take measures to reduce the deficit. If effective action has been taken in compliance with a notice, and unexpected adverse economic events with major unfavourable consequences for government finances occur after the adoption of that notice, the Council may decide, on a recommendation from the Commission, to adopt a revised notice.

No later than four months after notice has been given, the Council normally decides to impose sanctions if the Member State fails to comply with the Council’s decisions.

As stipulated in Article 139, paragraph 2(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (formerly Article 122 of the Treaty on the European Community), the formal notices issued by the Council and the sanctions provided for in Article 129 of the Treaty do not apply to Member States not (yet) participating in the euro.

Abeyance of the procedure

The excessive deficit procedure may be held in abeyance:

  • if the Member State concerned acts in compliance with the recommendations made by the Council;
  • if the participating Member State concerned acts in compliance with the notices issued by the Council.

The period during which the procedure is held in abeyance is not included in the periods relating to the giving of notice or to the imposition of sanctions.

Corrective action

The Council sets a deadline for corrective action to be taken by the Member State. This corrective action must comply with the Council’s recommendations and its sanctions. Upon the expiry of this deadline, the Commission gives the Council its opinion on the corrective measures taken by the Member State concerned. The Commission’s opinion is based on the premise that these measures have been fully implemented and that economic developments are in line with forecasts.

In order to examine a participating Member State’s adjustment efforts, the Council may ask the Member State to submit reports in accordance with a specific timetable:

  • if action by that participating Member State is not being implemented or, in the Council’s view, is proving to be inadequate;
  • if actual data indicate that an excessive deficit has not been corrected by that participating Member State within the time limits specified in the recommendations.

Sanctions

Sanctions resulting from a procedure for excessive deficit first take the form of a non-interest-bearing deposit with the EU. The amount of this deposit comprises:

  • a fixed component equal to 0.2 % of GDP;
  • a variable component equal to one tenth of the difference between the deficit as a percentage of GDP in the year in which the deficit was deemed to be excessive and the reference value of 3 % of GDP.

Each following year, the Council may decide to intensify sanctions by requiring an additional deposit. This will be equal to one tenth of the difference between the deficit as a percentage of GDP in the preceding year and the reference value of 3 % of GDP.

Deposits may not exceed the upper limit of 0.5 % of GDP per year.

As a rule, a deposit is converted into a fine if, in the Council’s opinion, the excessive deficit has not been corrected after two years.

The Council may decide to abrogate some or all of the sanctions, depending on the significance of the progress made by the participating Member State concerned in correcting the excessive deficit.

The Council will abrogate all outstanding sanctions if the decision on the existence of an excessive deficit is repealed. Any fines already imposed will not be reimbursed to the participating Member State concerned.

Both the interest on the deposits lodged with the Commission and the yield from any fines will be distributed among Member States without an excessive deficit, in proportion to their share of the total gross national product (GNP) of the eligible Member States.

Context

The aim of the Stability and Growth Pact is to prevent excessive budget deficits emerging in the euro zone after the beginning of the third phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which started on 1 January 1999.

As the Treaty only sets out quantitative criteria for adopting the single currency and does not specify a budgetary policy to be implemented after the introduction of the euro, Member States judged it necessary to adopt the Stability and Growth Pact. It is therefore in keeping with the principles set out in the Treaty and extends its provisions.

The Pact is intended to ensure sound management of public finances in the euro zone in order to prevent a situation arising in which one Member State’s lax budgetary policy penalises the other Member States through interest rates and undermines confidence in the economic stability of the euro zone. It is designed to ensure the sustained and lasting convergence of the economies of Member States belonging to the euro zone.

Moreover, this Regulation was the subject of an initial revision in June 2005. A second recast is currently underway. The Proposal for the new regulation should be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU towards the end of 2011.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1467/97

1.1.1999

OJ L 209, 2.8.1997

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1056/2005

27.7.2005

OJ L 174, 7.7.2005