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Mobility of young volunteers

Mobility of young volunteers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Mobility of young volunteers

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Education training youth sport > Youth

Mobility of young volunteers

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 20 November 2008 on the mobility of young volunteers across the European Union [Official Journal C 319 of 13.12.2008].

Summary

This recommendation establishes a framework of cooperation for Member States, based on which the cross-border mobility of young volunteers may be strengthened. It does so with due respect to the diversity of the national volunteering schemes.

The Council has defined cross-border voluntary activities as: “open to all young people, undertaken by their own free will in the general interest, for a sustained period, within a clear framework and in a country other than the country of residence, unpaid or with token payment and/or coverage of expenses”. Voluntary activities provide a non-formal educational and informal learning experience through which young people may develop their professional and social skills and competences. Thereby, these activities enhance their employability and active citizenship, while benefiting local communities and fostering social cohesion.

With this recommendation, the Council is encouraging Member States to strengthen cooperation among voluntary organisations and public authorities involved in organising voluntary activities, in order to promote the mobility of young volunteers within Europe. To this end, Member States should take action to:

  • promote the dissemination of information on national voluntary activities;
  • facilitate stakeholders’ access to information regarding cross-border voluntary activities and provide information on rights and opportunities thereof;
  • facilitate young volunteers’ access to cross-border voluntary activities, in particular by simplifying the procedures;
  • develop opportunities for cross-border voluntary activities through a flexible approach, taking into consideration such issues as hosting capacities, establishment of contacts among volunteers, use of European mobility mechanisms, mobility of youth workers and training of those active in youth work;
  • promote the development of intercultural competences and the learning of languages as means to facilitate cross-border mobility;
  • support the development of self-assessment tools with which voluntary organisations may guarantee the quality of their cross-border activities;
  • exchange information and cooperate with each other in order to assure the social and legal protection of volunteers;
  • promote the recognition of volunteers’ learning outcomes through the use of national and European level qualification instruments;
  • promote the participation of young people with fewer opportunities in cross-border voluntary activities.

The Commission is committed to support Member States’ actions relating to the above. It will do this through the EU cooperation framework in the youth field, the open method of coordination as well as the European Voluntary Service (EVS), as contained in the youth in action programme. The Commission will develop opportunities for voluntary organisations to exchange information and experience on cross-border cooperation. In addition, it will establish a European Youth Volunteer Portal to disseminate information to all stakeholders.

Background

The common objectives for young people’s voluntary activities and their implementation at national level were identified in the Resolution of 15 November 2004 on common objectives for voluntary activities of young people and in its implementing resolution of 16 November 2007. These also requested that Member States develop means to measures progress in practice. The 2007 resolution further requested the Commission to propose additional ways to promote and recognise young people’s voluntary activities.

Broad economic policy guidelines

Broad economic policy guidelines

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (1996)

1) Objective

To ensure closer coordination of economic policies and sustained convergence of the economic performance of the Member States and of the Community.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 8 July 1996 on the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the Member States and of the Community [Official Journal L 179, 18.07.1996].

3) Summary

As a result of the marked slowdown in economic activity at the end of 1995/beginning of 1996, the Community had been unable to make significant progress towards achieving certain fundamental economic objectives, namely the promotion of sustainable, non-inflationary growth and a high level of employment.
Nevertheless, economic fundamentals (low inflation, absence of exchange-rate tensions, improved investment profitability, etc.) were favourable, leading to expectations of a rebound in economic activity.
All parties were encouraged to conduct their economic policies in such a way as to contribute to the achievement of the Community´s objectives and to improve coordination of their policies.

The Council reaffirmed the need for a stable macroeconomic framework characterised by:

  • a stability-oriented monetary policy;
  • sustained efforts to consolidate public finances;
  • nominal wage trends consistent with the price stability objective; real wage trends below the increase in productivity in order to strengthen the profitability of employment-creating investment.

To reinforce both the credibility of the macroeconomic framework and the effectiveness of the coordination process, Member States were invited to present updated convergence programmes reflecting a strong political commitment.

As far as price stability was concerned, nine Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland) had already met the objective of an inflation rate below 3 %.
In Sweden and the United Kingdom, where inflation had fallen significantly, policies should aim to consolidate the results achieved.
Those countries where inflation was expected to be between 3% and 5 % in 1996 (Spain, Italy and Portugal) should endeavour to reduce the inflation rate to below 3 % in 1997.
Despite visible progress achieved in the last few years, Greece should continue and intensify its efforts.

Member States should continue to treat their exchange-rate policies as a matter of common interest.

The state of public finances in the Community remained unsatisfactory given the slippages identified relative to announced targets, which were admittedly due in part to the slowdown in economic activity. Member States should strengthen their budgetary consolidation programmes, in particular so as to restore their credibility and to boost confidence on the financial markets..

Three countries already respected the 3 % of GDP reference value: Luxembourg, Ireland and Denmark. The latter two should move towards more ambitious medium-term targets.
Budgetary consolidation remained the central policy priority for Italy, whose primary focus had to be action to combat tax evasion.
Greece needed to make sustained efforts on all fronts.
The ten remaining countries were undoubtedly able to make the additional effort required to reach the 3 % reference value by resolutely implementing the budgetary component of their convergence programmes.

Over and above the specific characteristics of each country, some general principles were spelt out:

  • restraining expenditure increases, as opposed to increasing the overall tax burden further;
  • re-directing government spending towards investment in infrastructure, human capital and active labour market measures;
  • improving the efficiency of public services;
  • ensuring that a reduction in the overall tax burden, desirable in many Member States, did not endanger deficit reduction.

Like the Member States, the Community was called upon to maintain strict budgetary discipline.

Macroeconomic action should be supplemented by measures aimed at improving the functioning of product and service markets. This required reinforcement of competition policies, curbing of state aid, and better transposal of single market legislation.
It was also desirable that measures be taken rapidly to promote innovation, facilitate the emergence of the information society and create a working environment more conducive to initiative and to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Significantly improving the employment situation required not only durable and buoyant economic growth and efficient product and service markets, but also a broad range of labour market reforms. All the reforms recommended featured in the European employment strategy initiated at the Essen European Council and which the Member States were implementing by means of their multiannual employment programmes. The Commission would do all it could to mobilise all parties around the top priority of fighting unemployment.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

On 23 April 1997 the Commission presented its progress report on the implementation of the 1996 broad economic policy guidelines [COM(97) 169 final, not published in the Official Journal].

The macroeconomic policy mix had been in line with the broad guidelines:

  • monetary policies had been credibly oriented towards achieving and maintaining price stability;
  • governments in virtually all Member States had taken significant steps to consolidate their public finances in 1996-97;
  • wage agreements had maintained the annual rise in real wages at a level below the growth in productivity.

This had already brought important benefits: a higher degree of exchange-rate stability within the exchange-rate mechanism had returned and long-term interest rates had converged towards lower levels. The implementation of sound economic policies had allowed the confidence of the business sector to grow and economic activity to be stepped up gradually.

The recovery was likely to accelerate provided that budgetary consolidation policies remained credible and that consumption was less dependent on uncertain job prospects. The average unemployment rate, which had stabilised in the first half of 1996, had fallen marginally since then.

For the Community as a whole, inflation had dropped to 2.4 % in 1996, which was generally in line with predictions. This generalised fall in inflation resulted from a number of factors, including a strict monetary policy, wage moderation and stronger competitive pressures. The prospects for 1997 were even better than the results for 1996.

The credibility of the policies implemented, along with the strengthening of the dollar, had contributed to a more appropriate alignment of exchange rates within the Community: the lira and the Swedish krona had regained the ground lost in 1995 and the pound sterling had appreciated markedly. Finland and Italy had joined the EMS exchange-rate mechanism on 14 October and 25 November 1996 respectively (only Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom are not members). All the currencies participating in the exchange-rate mechanism had remained within narrow margins against each other, except the Irish pound, which had appreciated considerably, in particular as a result of the rapid growth of the Irish economy.

All Member States except Germany had made progress towards reducing the budget deficit in 1996: the Community average had fallen from 5.0 % of GDP in 1995 to 4.3 % in 1996, and this despite the cyclical deterioration. It should be pointed out that Finland and the Netherlands managed to reduce their deficits to below 3 % of GDP in 1996. All the Member States which had not yet met this objective had adopted measures to attain it in 1997, with the exception of Greece (the Greek Government was aiming for 4.2 %).

On the other hand, the upward trend in the debt ratio had continued in 1996: the Community average had risen from 71.2 % in 1995 to 73.5 % in 1996. It was particularly in Germany, Spain, France, Austria and the United Kingdom that the ratio had continued to rise.

The nature of Member States´ consolidation efforts had not always conformed to the broad guidelines. Thus, the share of GDP attributable to public expenditure had risen in Denmark, France and Italy and the tax burden had increased in Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Finland and Sweden. In 1997 budgetary consolidation was expected to be achieved mainly through expenditure restraint; the average tax burden was likely to remain constant. Some countries were using one-off measures to achieve budgetary consolidation (this would be particularly true of 1997): such measures would have to be supplemented by measures leading to a lasting improvement in the budgetary situation in order not to undermine confidence in a return to sound public finances.

Numerous measures had been taken at both the Community and the national level to boost the competitiveness and efficiency of the European economies. Progress had been made in the transposal of directives, but more still needed to be done. Likewise, eleven single market measures proposed by the Commission had not yet been adopted by the Council.

Wage trends were increasingly in line with the objective of price stability: at Community level, real wage costs had increased by 1 % while actual growth in labour productivity had settled at 1.5 %. Greece, Portugal, Finland and Sweden had not complied with the recommendation.

As regards employment, the Member States had adopted a broad range of measures covering the priority issues identified at Essen. It was still too early to assess the impact of these reforms on unemployment.


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (1997)

1) Objective

To ensure closer coordination of economic policies and sustained convergence of the economic performances of the Member States and of the Community.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 7 July 1997 on the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the Member States and of the Community [Official Journal L 209 of 02.08.1997].

3) Summary

In a climate of moderate recovery, priority had to be given to two fundamental policy concerns:

  • to reduce unemployment significantly;
  • to maintain efforts towards achieving price stability and budgetary consolidation so that a majority of Member States would be in a position to participate in the single currency as from 1 January 1999.

In the macroeconomic field, the broad guidelines reaffirmed that the common strategy should build further on the following three elements:

  • a stability-oriented monetary policy;
  • sustained efforts to consolidate public finances;
  • nominal wage trends consistent with the price stability objective; real wage trends below the increase in productivity in order to strengthen the profitability of investment.

The more the stability task of monetary policy were facilitated by appropriate budgetary measures and wage developments, the more monetary conditions, including exchange rates and long-term interest rates, would be favourable to growth and employment.

Considerable headway had been made towards price stability and inflation convergence. In April 1997 fourteen Member States had an inflation rate of 2 % or less. This level needed to be maintained. Greece needed to redouble its efforts to reach the targets of 4.5 % by the end of 1997 and 3 % by the end of 1998.

The currencies participating in the exchange-rate mechanism had registered a remarkable degree of stability. Member States should continue to treat their exchange-rate policies as a matter of common interest. Countries not participating in the exchange-rate mechanism were called upon to continue with stability-oriented macroeconomic policies in order to make such participation possible.

A large majority of Member States had taken significant measures to reduce their budget deficits to 3 % of GDP (or even less) in 1997. These efforts needed to be maintained in order to build confidence in the sustainability of the budgetary adjustment, especially in those countries where the 1997 budget contained temporary measures and where the ratio of debt to GDP was not approaching the reference value at a satisfactory pace.
To be sustainable, budgetary projections should clearly indicate the underlying economic assumptions and the medium-term strategy of the Member State concerned (structural reforms, etc.).

The Council reaffirmed the same general principles as outlined in the broad guidelines in previous years:

  • more prominence should be given to expenditure restraint than to an increase in the overall tax burden;
  • government spending priorities should focus on investment in infrastructure and human capital and on active labour market initiatives;
  • a reduction in the tax burden or in social security contributions was desirable in the context of budgetary consolidation; Member States should also review the financial sustainability of their social protection and public pension schemes and implement reforms in good time.

Furthermore, any harmful competition between the tax systems of the Member States should be avoided.

As regards the budget deficit, five Member States met the 3% of GDP reference value in 1996: Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Finland. Luxembourg apart, they all needed to consolidate these results.
Greece again needed to make sustained efforts in order to meet the targets of its convergence programme, in particular with regard to the efficiency of the tax administration and the reduction in government spending.
The other nine Member States were expected to see their budget deficits reach the reference value of 3% of GDP or less in 1997. They should continue to implement their convergence programmes with determination in order to consolidate these results in the coming years.

It was essential to improve the operation of product and service markets, to stimulate competition, to foster innovation and to ensure efficient price setting in order to promote growth and employment. This improvement would be brought about by making the single market work better, with additional commitment on the part of Member States to:

  • fully transposing and enforcing existing legislation;
  • making further progress on the legal framework in areas such as taxation and company law;
  • completing the liberalisation of energy markets;
  • reducing the burden of over-regulation which led to market fragmentation;
  • avoiding the use of state aid to postpone essential restructuring.

The Commission’s action plan proposed a number of measures which should be in place by 1 January 1999 in order to redynamise the single market.

Labour market reforms and increased investment in knowledge were essential. Various conclusions could be drawn from the positive experience of a number of Member States, especially the conclusion that structural reforms needed to be comprehensive in scope so as to address in a coherent manner the complex issue of incentives in creating and taking up jobs and to exploit policy complimentarity. The process under way should continue and, where necessary, be intensified, with priority being given to:

  • the maintenance of appropriate wage trends;
  • reductions in non-wage labour costs;
  • reform of the taxation and social protection systems;
  • new patterns of work organisation (more flexible working-time arrangements, etc.);
  • adaptation of the whole educational system (including vocational training) to the needs of markets and to the improvement of human capital.

These reforms needed to be supported by a stronger employment orientation in other policies.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work


Another Normative about Broad Economic Policy Guidelines

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

Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (2008- 2010)

The potential economic stability and growth of the European Union (EU) should be developed through the implementation of adapted national policies. The Council recommends that Member States align their macroeconomic * and microeconomic * policies taking into account changes in European society and fluctuations in the international situation.

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 2008/390/EC of 14 May 2008 on the broad economic policy guidelines for the Member States and the Community (2008-2010) [Official Journal L 137 of 27.5.2008].

Summary

The recommendation on the broad economic policy guidelines (BEPG) establishes the framework for coordinating the policies of the European Union (EU) Member States.

Macroeconomic policies for growth and jobs

Compliance with guidelines 1 to 5 will contribute towards:

  • securing economic stability for sustainable growth,by calling on Member States to ensure the development of their public finances in line with the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and by ensuring that in the case of current account deficits they implement structural reforms and fiscal policies to encourage the competitiveness of their markets;
  • strengthening sustainable economic and fiscal viability,in the context of Europe’s ageing population. Member States must undertakea satisfactory pace of debt reduction and improve the efficiency of their pension, social protection and health care systems. They should encourage the presence of workers in the labour market for a longer period;
  • improving the effectiveness of public finances, by aligning public expenditure to the growth objectives of the renewed Lisbon Strategy and by taking fiscal measures to encourage jobs and investment;
  • ensuring that wage developments support economic growth and stability, by encouraging the creation of framework conditions for wage-bargaining systems as labour costs should encourage price stability and contribute to productivity;
  • coordinating macroeconomic, structural and employment policies, to increase theadjustment capacity in labour and product markets in the worldwide economy following the principle of flexisecurity.

Guideline 6 recommends that States in the euro area coordinate their economic and fiscal policies better in order to contribute to a dynamic and well-functioning euro area. In particular they should pay attention to fiscal sustainability in compliance with the SGP and accelerate structural reforms aimed at productivity, competitiveness and economic adjustment capacity. The euro area should also increase its influence and competitiveness at the international level.

Microeconomic reforms to raise Europe’s growth potential

In accordance with the Lisbon Strategy, guidelines 7 to 11 highlight the importance of knowledge and innovation as factors for competitiveness, growth and sustainable development. Member States and the Community should pursue an integrated approach to climate and energy policy with the aim of increasing the security of supply and the availability of affordable energy, and combating climate change.

Measures taken by Member States should:

  • increase investmentin research and development, particularly by businesses, with a general aim of 3% of Europe’s GDP being invested by 2010. Public-private partnerships should be developed, as well as centres of excellence of educational institutions and national research institutes and the transfer of technologies between public research institutes and businesses;
  • facilitate innovation in all its forms, through the establishment of support services, recourse to public procurement, access to national and international funds and the protection of intellectual property rights. Local and regional innovation poles should contribute to the technological convergence of European territories;
  • accelerate the dissemination and widespread use of information communication technologies (ICTs), by increasing the deployment, power and interoperability of information networks in particular;
  • strengthen the European industrial base, by adopting an approach which strengthens the ability of the economy to reorient its activities towards sectors with higher productivity;
  • use resources in a sustainable way, and create synergies between production, the environment and growth. This implies that Member States should give priority to energy efficiency and tackling climate change.

The European Union (EU) should become more attractive to foreign investors and workers. Guidelines 12 to 16 make recommendations to:

  • extend and deepen the internal market,byeliminating remaining obstacles to cross-border activity in the EU, including activities related to the single market for services and public procurement;
  • ensure open and competitive markets,as a result of implementing competition policy more effectively, including in the network industries. State aid should be directed towards horizontal objectives such as research, innovation and the optimisation of human capital;
  • improve European and national regulationsin terms of their impact on economic, social and environmental areas and on the competitiveness of businesses. Administrative burdens which weigh heavily on enterprises should be reduced;
  • encourage an entrepreneurial culture and create a supportive environment for SMEs, in particular regarding their creation, transfer of ownership and access to finance;
  • expand, connect and modernise European infrastructures,for better integrated markets. Member States should give priority to transeuropean networks (TENs).
Key terms of the Act
  • Macroeconomic policies: this term encompasses policies believed to influence economic factors on ‘a large scale’ such as price levels, unemployment, growth potential, Gross Domestic Product, etc.
  • Microeconomic policies: this term encompasses policies aimed at directing decisions of an economic nature, for example people or morals.

Related Acts

Council Recommendation 2009/531/EC of 25 June 2009 on the 2009 update of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [OL L 183 of 15.7.2009].

The Council addresses recommendations to Member States to ensure that they take account of the 2009 update of the integrated guidelines for growth and employment. These recommendations are specific to the situation of each State. They have been drawn up in the context of the slowdown in economic activity and employment growth resulting from the international financial crisis.

Member States are to adapt their national reform programmes and to give an account of those adaptations in their annual reports on the implementation of those programmes.

These recommendations, issued as part of the second cycle (2008 – 2010) of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs, are presented in the form of a single instrument. The latter is intended for the revision of the broad guidelines for the economic policies and the employment policy guidelines.


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (1998)

1) Objective

To ensure closer coordination of economic policies and sustained convergence of the economic performances of the Member States and of the Community.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 6 July 1998 on the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the Member States and of the Community [Official Journal L 200 16.07.1998].

3) Summary

Implementation, by the Member States, of policies aimed at achieving a high degree of economic convergence had yielded tangible results, enabling the Council of the European Union to decide on 3 May 1998 that eleven Member States fulfilled the necessary conditions for the adoption of the euro. However, insufficient progress had been made in reducing unemployment in many Member States.

Since the summer of 1997 an increasingly robust economic recovery had taken hold in a context of historically low inflation. The underlying economic fundamentals were sound and improving continuously, indicating solid growth prospects. An even stronger recovery could lead to a slight reduction in the unemployment rate up to 1999.

In the macroeconomic field, the broad guidelines reaffirmed that the common strategy should build further on the following three elements:

  • a monetary policy oriented towards price stability;
  • sustained efforts to achieve and maintain sound budgetary positions consistent with the Stability Pact;
  • nominal wage trends consistent with the price stability objective; real wage trends consistent with the increase in productivity in order to strengthen the profitability of investment.

The more the stability task of monetary policy were facilitated by appropriate budgetary measures and wage developments, the more monetary conditions, including exchange rates and long-term interest rates, would be favourable to growth and employment.

The macroeconomic policy mix of the euro area would result essentially from the interaction of the single monetary policy, on the one hand, and the specific budgetary developments and wage trends in the participating countries, on the other. In order to achieve an appropriate mix, economic policies would be subject to closer surveillance and coordination.

For the “pre-ins” (Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden) the need for stability-oriented macroeconomic policies would be equally strong.

Both in the prospective euro area and in Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the average inflation rate had fallen below 2 %. These countries now needed to conduct their economic policies with a view to maintaining price stability, in order thus to maintain monetary conditions favourable to growth and to avoid unduly wide inflation differentials.

Greece needed to reinforce its efforts to reduce its inflation rate further, in particular in order to contain the consequences of the devaluation of the drachma upon its entering the European exchange-rate mechanism in March 1998.

Additional progress was needed in most Member States in order to ensure compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact’s objective of budgetary positions close to balance or in surplus. Consolidation was required in order to:

  • facilitate the task of the single monetary policy and the monetary policies of the “pre-ins”;
  • be able to keep long-term interest rates at a low level, thereby promoting private investment;
  • ensure that public finances regained the necessary room for manoeuvre so as to cope with adverse economic developments;
  • ensure that public debt ratios above 60 % continued to approach the reference value at a satisfactory pace.

It was also important that Member States provided assurances regarding the continuity of budgetary adjustment.

To this end, the Council reaffirmed the same general principles as identified in the broad guidelines in previous years:

  • more prominence should be given to expenditure restraint than to an increase in the overall tax burden;
  • a reduction in the overall tax burden was desirable in most Member States in order to promote economic dynamism;
  • in cases where government deficits or government debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratios were still high, it was important that any tax reduction should not slow down the pace of deficit reduction;
  • public spending priorities should be directed towards investment in infrastructure and human capital and towards active labour market policies.

In the same way as the Member States, the Community was called upon to continue to maintain strict budgetary discipline.

The country-specific guidelines were as follows:

Belgium should ensure that its commitment to maintaining the primary surplus at 6% of GDP over the medium term was realised, in order to secure a fast decline in the debt ratio, which was still at a very high level.

Germany needed to step up its budgetary adjustment so as to put its debt ratio firmly on a declining path and to bring it back below the reference value in the near future.

Spain should take advantage of current favourable economic conditions to accelerate the achievement of the medium-term target of a budget close to balance or in surplus.

In France budgetary adjustment efforts should be pursued in order to respect the obligations of the Stability and Growth Pact beyond 1999 and to stabilise the debt ratio.

Ireland needed to implement a tight fiscal policy in order to reduce the risk of the economy overheating. As a result of the increasing government surpluses, the debt ratio was expected to fall below the reference value in 1998 and to continue declining thereafter.

Italy needed to step up its budgetary consolidation efforts in order to respect the obligations of the Stability and Growth Pact and to reduce rapidly the debt ratio, which was still at a high level.

Luxembourg was expected to keep a budget surplus along with a very low debt ratio in the coming years.

The Netherlands should refrain from relaxing its budgetary stance in order to ensure a further continuous decline in the debt ratio.

Austria should continue its consolidation efforts in order to achieve the medium-term target of a budgetary position close to balance or in surplus and to keep the debt ratio on a downward path.

Portugal should continue to improve its budgetary position further in order to respect the obligations under the Stability and Growth Pact. The debt ratio was expected to fall below the reference value in 1998 and to continue declining afterwards.

Finland was expecting a budgetary surplus in 1998 and increasing surpluses in the coming years. The planned income tax reduction in 1999 should not undermine this process.

Denmark was expected to increase its budget surplus in the coming years. The debt ratio should fall below the reference value in 1998 and continue to decline afterwards.

Greece needed to continue its budgetary consolidation efforts if it was to realise its goal of joining the euro area by 2001. Its deficit had declined to 4.0 % of GDP in 1997 and should decline to below the reference value in 1998. The debt ratio had declined for the first time in 1997.

Sweden should control government expenditure tightly in order to maintain a surplus.

In the United Kingdom the budget should balance by the end of the decade. The planned measures should be implemented, especially since account should be taken of the need to bring about stable conditions for the economy overall.

The social partners should set wages in line with the following general rules:

  • aggregate nominal wage increases must be consistent with price stability;
  • real wage increases with respect to labour productivity growth should take into account the need to maintain, or even strengthen, the profitability of investment;
  • wage agreements should take better account of differentials in productivity levels according to qualifications, skills and geographical areas;
  • labour-cost differences between Member States should continue to reflect discrepancies in labour productivity.

In EMU a higher degree of adaptability in the wage-formation process would be required because it would play an important role if there were country-specific disturbances. To this end, the social dialogue needed to be strengthened at all levels.

Structural reforms in product, service, capital and, especially, labour markets remained necessary in order to enable Member States to respond to country-specific economic disturbances and to reinforce the Community’s competitiveness.

With regard to improving the efficiency of product, service and capital markets, efforts should focus on:

  • improving the functioning of the single market, in particular by ensuring the prompt implementation of the action plan for the single market with a view to reducing the degree of non-implementation of directives;
  • enhancing competition by streamlining and decentralising the application of the antitrust rules in order to enhance its effectiveness and reduce the costs imposed on enterprises;
  • developing a regulatory and fiscal framework which was more favourable to businesses;
  • removing legal and financial obstacles to the integration of European capital markets.

It was important to modernise labour markets in order to increase the intensity of job creation and to ensure the employability of the labour force. These objectives had also been set out in the employment guidelines. Member States should put the emphasis on:

  • active labour market policies, so that employment services were better placed to perform efficient job-searching and job-matching services, and combining these measures with accompanying measures such as training;
  • measures to make tax and social welfare contribution systems more favourable to employment, in particular by reversing the trend whereby the gap between what workers received and what firms paid was widening;
  • reforming welfare systems, with a view to moving from passive income maintenance systems to welfare support through work; take-home pay should be made more attractive and eligibility criteria adjusted in order to make it more obligatory to look for work or follow a course of training;
  • exchanging experiences and best practices in the field of working arrangements; arrangements to reduce working time should not undermine adaptability or reduce labour supply and output.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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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

Broad economic policy guidelines (1999)

1) Objective

To ensure high and sustainable economic growth and employment via a comprehensive and coherent strategy comprising sound macroeconomic policies and policies that improve adaptability.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 12 July 1999 on the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the Member States and of the Community [Official Journal L 217 of 17.08.1999].

3) Summary

The launch of the euro on 1 January 1999 marks a great achievement in the process of European integration. At the same time, the Union must face new challenges, since the economic and social situation in each of the Member States will be increasingly influenced by economic developments and policies in partner Member States. The lasting success of economic and monetary union will demand discipline from all policy actors, including the social partners, as well as a deepened and strengthened policy coordination. A new institutional framework favourable to growth, employment and price stability has been established together with enhanced surveillance and coordination instruments. Now the task is to put them into practice.

Since the summer of 1998 the economic recovery in Europe has slowed down as a result of the global crisis. On the back of sound economic fundamentals and confidence-building economic policies, economic activity should soon regain momentum and take off again to exceed its potential rate in 2000, against a background of low inflation. With regard to the level of unemployment, although the employment rate remains relatively low, the pace of job creation has quickened, and in 1998 the unemployment rate dropped below 10%. It is the countries that have accompanied sound macroeconomic policies with structural reforms that have achieved the greatest improvement in their performance. It is necessary to invest in infrastructure and skills in order to accelerate the development of those sectors of the economy based on high technology.

The achievement over the medium term of economic growth and high and sustainable employment will require a comprehensive and coherent strategy that consists of three components:

  • sound macroeconomic policies conducive to price stability fully coordinated with wage setting;
  • policies that improve the overall functioning of labour markets;
  • economic reforms that enhance the efficiency and flexibility of goods, services and capital markets.

All economic policy actors are jointly responsible in the strategy to achieve self-sustaining, non-inflationary, investment-supported growth. All actors must ensure that the EU enjoys appropriate wage developments, sound public finances, economic reforms and a stability-oriented monetary policy. The European Employment Pact should define the process whereby all the policy actors enter into a dialogue with a view to achieving the Union’s central economic and social objective of high employment within the framework of a strong and sustained medium-term growth process. There is no doubt that such a project requires coordination both at national and European level. At European level, it is indeed necessary to reinforce the dialogue between the Commission, the Council, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the social partners.

A policy mix conducive to growth, employment and stability in the euro area should comprise commitments regarding budgetary policies, wage developments and structural policies. The progress achieved in budgetary consolidation should be built on. This will create the necessary scope to face adverse cyclical developments, reduce the vulnerability of budgets to rising interest rates, make government spending and taxation more conducive to growth and job creation, and help countries prepare for the longer-term budgetary challenges associated with an ageing population. The Member States must therefore:

  • improve their budgetary positions through expenditure restraint rather than through tax increases;
  • ensure the efficiency of their public finances (for example by reviewing pension systems, investing in human capital, reducing the overall tax burden and strengthening tax coordination at Community level).

The non-euro-area Member States will need to conduct their monetary and budgetary policies so as to maintain and/or improve their convergence in terms of inflation and budgetary position, in preparation for the adoption of the euro. Greece and Denmark must comply with the exchange rate criterion given that their currencies participate in the new exchange-rate mechanism (ERM II).

The euro area is to take on global responsibilities; it must speak with one voice and must be represented effectively.

With regard to the economic situation in each individual Member State, the task is to identify the weak points and seek appropriate policies (macroeconomic, structural) to remedy them. The situation in each country is as follows:

– Economic growth will decelerate in Belgium in 1999 to about its trend rate, but should be sufficient to bring about a decline in unemployment.

– Economic growth in Denmark is likely to slow down in 1999 as economic activity is close to capacity limits and in response to counter-cyclical budgetary measures at central government level. Unemployment is likely to stabilise at its present level.

– Germany is experiencing a very significant slowdown. This is due to a generally greater exposure to weaker world trade and some specific domestic influences (such as the depressed construction industry). This situation could interfere with the decline in unemployment the country had begun to see.

– Economic growth in Greece has been strong in recent years and any slowdown in 1999 is likely to be modest. Unemployment is expected to decline gradually.

– Continued growth is expected in the Spanish economy, although at a somewhat lower rate than in previous years. A further decline in the still very high level of unemployment is anticipated.

– Economic growth in France will decelerate in 1999 to about its trend rate. A further but less rapid decline in unemployment is expected.

– Very rapid growth in the Irish economy is expected to continue in 1999, albeit not as strongly as in the previous two years. Unemployment should decline further at a significant pace.

– Economic growth in Italy is weak, with both domestic and external demand lacking strength, and there has not yet been any significant decline in unemployment.

– Economic activity in Luxembourg in 1999 is not expanding as rapidly as in 1998. The employment rate is very high.

– After several years of rapid expansion, the Dutch economy is slowing down in 1999. The already low unemployment rate is likely to fall further.

– The situation in Austria is similar to that in the Netherlands.

– Economic growth in Portugal is expected to slow, but it will remain close to the trend rate and should allow a further decline in unemployment.

– Although the Finnish economy is expected to slow down in 1999, unemployment should continue to fall.

– The situation in Sweden is similar to that in Finland.

– Economic growth in the United Kingdom in 1999 is likely to be lower, accompanied by a gradual rise in unemployment.

In the matter of budgetary policy, the measures introduced by the Member States under the Stability and Growth Pact have borne fruit in Denmark, Ireland and Sweden. However, most Member States (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal) must be vigilant as regards their budgetary policies. The other countries must focus on the systematic control of spending in order to maintain the overall balance of their public finances. The first signs of an ageing population are beginning to appear in some Member States (e.g. Finland), which requires adjustment of social spending on pensioners.

Transposal of the single market directives appears to be causing problems in most Member States (Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and the United Kingdom). Several Member States seem reluctant to carry through the policy of liberalisation in certain areas such as telecommunications, transport, postal services and energy. They should continue and step up their efforts in this direction.

In Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal and the United Kingdom, measures appear to be required in the field of innovation and it is up to Member States to reduce the administrative red tape which hampers the creation of new businesses.

Some Member States (Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and France) still have to adapt their national legislation to comply with Community competition law.

The United Kingdom is showing the most encouraging performance in the Union with regard to employment, thanks to an employment policy based on a high level of flexibility. Employment rates in Belgium, Greece, France and Italy are very low and in Spain the rate is extremely poor. It is necessary to introduce training programmes targeting the long-term unemployed and their integration into the working environment. These measures must be accompanied by income tax concessions that will encourage people into work.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (2000)

1) Objective

To increase the growth potential of the economy and to promote employment and social cohesion via structural reforms and the transition to a knowledge-driven economy while giving operational content to the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 19 June 2000 on the broad economic policy guidelines of the Member States and the Community [Official Journal L 210, 21.08.2000].

3) Summary

The broad economic policy guidelines (BEPG) give operational content to the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council, which focus on the opportunities afforded by globalisation and a new knowledge-driven economy.

MAIN PRIORITIES AND POLICY REQUIREMENTS

Growth prospects. During the 1990s, the European Union (EU) fostered economic integration and created a solid framework for the conduct of economic policies. The improvements in the framework conditions have not yet been reflected in a stronger economic performance, and this is indicative of the macroeconomic imbalances that prevailed at the time and the structural rigidities still existing in certain Member States. Nevertheless, since the adoption of the previous BEPGs in 1999, economic growth has been increasingly robust and broadly based in the EU thanks to a favourable environment and sound macroeconomic management. This could lead to non-inflationary economic growth of the order of 3% for the Union as a whole in the years ahead.

Key challenges. All Member States are confronted with these challenges. Firstly, restoring full employment is one of the priorities: although it has edged downwards, unemployment remains too high. Moreover, employment and participation rates are also low. As emphasised by the Lisbon European Council in 2000, the employment rate is to be raised to 70% by 2010.
Secondly, innovation and knowledge should become the driving forces for economic growth in Europe. This will require increased adaptability of economic structures, while investment in information and communication technologies (ICT), research and development (R&D) and human resources would have to be increased.
Thirdly, population ageing poses a major challenge for European economies since it has serious effects on saving, investment and public finance. Consolidation of public finance and reforms of pension and health-care systems have been identified with a view to tackling this demographic challenge.
In addition, improving social cohesion, and particularly measures to combat social exclusion, is a priority for Member States. By improving framework conditions for growth and employment, economic policies can make the strongest contribution to social inclusion.
In an increasingly integrated world economy, the reforms needed cannot be considered in isolation from the international context. The EU must therefore pursue a common commercial policy that favours open and competitive markets.
The EU must incorporate its responses to the challenges that exist into a coherent and comprehensive strategy for the medium to long term. The existence of integrated, efficient and competitive markets is a key feature of this strategy.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Macroeconomic policies:

  • maintain price stability;
  • speed up fiscal consolidation in order to achieve budgetary positions close to balance or in surplus and to lower public debt;
  • encourage the social partners to behave responsibly in order to support wage developments consistent with price stability and job creation.

Speed up fiscal consolidation:

  • take advantage of any additional room for manoeuvre in achieving better-than-expected budgetary positions;
  • achieve earlier than envisaged a budgetary position close to balance or in surplus so as to create sufficient policy headroom to cope with adverse cyclical fluctuations;
  • to reduce public debt as preparation for the challenge associated with population ageing.

Quality and sustainability of public finances:

  • improve public finances through expenditure restraint and introduce mechanisms that help control spending;
  • redirect government spending towards capital, human resources, innovation, R&D and ICT;
  • make work pay by reviewing benefit systems and reducing the tax burden;
  • review pension and health-care systems;
  • improve the efficiency of tax systems;
  • improve the smooth functioning of the internal market through reforms of the VAT system, administrative cooperation and tax coordination between Member States and reach an agreement on the tax package.

Wage developments:

  • foster wage increases that are consistent with price stability and labour productivity growth in order to promote job creation;
  • ensure that collective bargaining systems take account of productivity differentials (according to skill, qualification or geographical area);
  • pursue policy aimed at reducing gender pay differences due to de facto discrimination.

Knowledge-driven economy:

  • promote involvement of the private sector in the financing of R&D expenditure and improve the functioning of risk capital markets;
  • stimulate competition in product and capital markets;
  • support fundamental research and reinforce the links between research establishments and businesses;
  • ensure availability of low-cost, high-speed Internet access;
  • intensify R&D cooperation so as to establish a European area of research and innovation and an EU patent system;
  • invest in appropriate education and training.

Product (goods and services) markets:

  • implement internal market legislation fully and effectively, especially in the area of public procurement, and improve technical standards and mutual recognition;
  • ensure the independence of competition authorities;
  • reduce and improve the monitoring of state aid;
  • complete the liberalisation of the telecommunications market and speed up the liberalisation of the energy, postal and transport sectors;
  • reinforce competition in service sectors, especially in financial services and the distributive sector, and improve the effectiveness of public services and public administration;
  • reduce regulatory burdens on business.

Capital markets:

  • facilitate access to investment capital, including for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and participation of all investors in an integrated market by eliminating existing barriers;
  • promote integration of government bond markets;
  • promote cross-border activities, notably as regards cross-border payments (BG) (CS) (ET) (GA) (LV) (LT) (HU) (MT) (PL) (RO) (SK) (SL);
  • enhance the comparability of companies’ financial statements;
  • promote the development of new firms and investment in venture capital by way of fiscal measures;
  • ensure more intensive cooperation between financial market regulators and supervisors.

Labour market:

  • implement a comprehensive preventive strategy against long-term unemployment, reduce the tax burden and social security contributions with a view to encouraging job creation, and facilitate access to training and education;
  • reform tax and benefit systems in order to encourage participation in an active working life and to develop an active employment policy;
  • enhance labour mobility and ensure mutual recognition of qualifications and portability of pension entitlements;
  • modernise work organisation (part-time work, job protection);
  • strengthen efforts at securing equal opportunities for men and women, in particular by taking measures to reconcile work and family life.

Sustainable development:

  • strengthen policies based on economic instruments such as taxation and user charges;
  • help achieve the objectives under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • review sectoral subsidies and tax exemptions;
  • work to agree on an appropriate framework for energy taxation at European level.

COUNTRY-SPECIFIC ECONOMIC POLICY GUIDELINES

Belgium: Economic activity is expected to accelerate in 2000 on the back of buoyant domestic demand. Belgium has made further progress towards budgetary adjustment and, according to the stability programme, is set to achieve a budget balance in 2002. The government should aim to reduce the deficit even more sharply than envisaged in the stability programme, to contain real growth of primary expenditure and to use any other room for manoeuvre to reduce government debt.
On product and capital markets, competition in services should be increased, liberalisation of energy sectors speeded up, the administrative burden on business eased and investment in private venture capital encouraged. On the labour market, the government is called on to promote labour mobility and to ensure that wage negotiations better reflect local labour market conditions as well as to reinforce active labour-market policies.

Denmark: Economic growth should recover in Denmark in 2000. The budget surplus is set to reach 2.2% of GDP in 2000. To safeguard the healthy situation of public finances, the government should ensure that the increase in expenditure, notably local government expenditure, does not exceed the ceilings set in the budget and should aim to reduce tax and expenditure ratios while adhering to the commitments set out in the convergence programme.
On product and capital markets, the government is called on to strengthen competition policy, to improve the efficiency of the public sector, to intensify links between research and business and to take measures to encourage venture capital investments. On the labour market, it should reduce the overall tax burden on labour, in particular low incomes, and monitor the reform of early retirement and leave schemes.

Germany: Economic activity should accelerate in 2000. According to the stability programme, the government deficit is set to decrease slightly to 1% of GDP in 2000 before rising to 1.5% in 2001 following a tax reform. The government is called on to exploit any additional opportunities to reduce the deficit faster than envisaged, implement the tax reform with caution so as not to jeopardise budgetary consolidation, and to draw up a structural reform of the social security system, especially pension and health schemes.
On product markets, Germany should ensure an increased opening-up of public procurement, liberalise advertising regulations, improve competitive structures and reduce state aid. In addition, it should pursue the opening-up of the electricity sector and reduce the administrative burden on SMEs. On capital markets, the government should take measures to encourage investment capital.
On the labour market, Germany is called on to reassess its policy towards the eastern part of the country, notably as regards the efficiency of transfers and the general flexibility of the labour market. The government should also reduce the burden of taxes and social security contributions on labour and should reduce disincentives in the tax and benefit systems which discourage labour-market participation.

Greece: Economic growth in Greece will continue at a strong pace. Budgetary consolidation has continued. The government should consider setting as an upper limit the target of 1.2% of GDP for the deficit in 2000 and should secure control of expenditure. It should also pursue the reform of the social security sector and implement the privatisation schedule so as to achieve a faster reduction in government debt.
On product and capital markets, Greece should improve its record of transposing internal market legislation, speed up liberalisation in the telecommunications and energy sectors, promote business start-ups, encourage R&D and investment in ICT, and implement the 1998 Risk Capital Action Plan.
On the labour market, it should reform employment services, in particular with a view to combating long-term unemployment, and ensure full implementation of the reforms already undertaken. It should review wage formation systems with a view to enhancing flexibility and adapting wage developments to productivity differentials at geographical, sectoral and company level.

Spain: The prospects for economic growth in 2000 remain favourable. Fiscal consolidation has made clear progress and should produce a budget surplus in 2002. The government is called on to improve on the targets set in the updated stability programme, to implement the reform of the National Budget Law and to respect fully the existing internal stability pact aimed at bringing expenditure better under control. Reform of the pension system including increased resources for the pension fund reserve should continue.
On product and capital markets, the reform of competition law should be pursued, sector-specific aid reduced, the administrative burden eased, especially for SMEs, and venture capital markets developed with a view to increasing investment.
On the labour market, Spain should review the wage formation system and the social welfare mechanisms at regional and local levels, improve the efficiency of active labour-market policies and review job-protection legislation with a view to enhancing labour-market flexibility.

France: Economic growth in France should remain healthy in 2000. The government deficit was reduced to 1.8% of GDP in 1999. The government is called on to reduce the deficit in 2000 to a level below the one set in the stability programme, to bring expenditure under control and to take every opportunity to reduce the deficit further. In addition, reform of the pension system should be undertaken with a view to ensuring long-term sustainability of government finances.
On product markets, the record in transposing internal market directives should be improved, state aid reduced, the liberalisation of network industries widened and efforts to simplify administrative formalities for business continued. On capital markets, France should facilitate investment by institutional investors in stock markets and improve the tax framework for risk capital.
On the labour market, France is encouraged to reduce the tax burden on labour, review benefit and employment protection systems, and ensure that the 35-hour working week reform does not adversely affect wage costs, labour supply and work organisation.

Ireland: Economic growth will remain exceptional. Government finances are sound. In its budgetary policy, the government should aim to avoid any overheating in the economy, to restrain the growth in public consumption to the level indicated in the stability programme and to accord priority to developing infrastructures while achieving the stability objectives of fiscal policy.
On product and capital markets, Ireland is called on to strengthen competition policy and apply Community law thoroughly, to liberalise the transport sector and to promote venture capital investments. On the labour market, wage developments should be monitored and the participation of women in the labour market increased.

Italy: The prospects for economic growth in 2000 and 2001 are favourable. The stability programme provides for a fall in the deficit to 0.1% of GDP in 2003. With this in mind, the government should exploit any additional headroom to reduce government debt, keep control of current primary expenditure, take measures to contain future expenditure by reassessing the pension system and pursue the privatisation programme.
On product and capital markets, Italy is called on to reduce non-agricultural state aid, to simplify the regulatory environment for companies, to strengthen R&D and innovation, and to encourage venture capital investments. On the labour market, unemployment benefit should be improved, employment protection made more flexible, labour-market flexibility enhanced, notably wages, and taxation on labour and social security contributions reduced.

Luxembourg: Economic growth is expected to remain strong in 2000. As regards budgetary policy, the government is called on to monitor current expenditures and to implement social security reforms as a means of preparing for the challenge of an ageing population. On product markets, Luxembourg is encouraged to reform its competition policy with a view to implementing Community rules fully and to promote development of the information society. On the labour market, the tax and benefit system should be reviewed with a view to promoting an increase in the national employment rate.

Netherlands: Economic growth in the Netherlands is likely to accelerate further in 2000. To maintain healthy government finances and a budget surplus, the government is called on to consolidate government finances, notably by monitoring expenditure. The tax reform should not jeopardise the budgetary situation.
On product and capital markets, the Netherlands should make further progress in enforcing the public procurement directives, should pursue the reform of network industries, raise the involvement of the private sector in R&D and encourage venture capital investment. To maintain a sound labour market, obstacles to activity should be dismantled, especially for women and older people, and the number of people who remain outside the labour market supported by passive income support schemes should be reduced.

Austria: Economic growth will accelerate in 2000. The government deficit should be equivalent to 1.7% of GDP. According to the stability programme, the government should aim to exercise stricter expenditure control in the execution of the budget and implement structural reforms designed to improve the budgetary situation in the long term. The announced pension reform should be implemented.
On product markets, the public procurement guidelines should be further transposed, the process of regulatory reform in the energy and transport sectors accelerated and private-sector involvement in R&D encouraged. On capital markets, the government is called on to upgrade the supervisory framework, develop incentives for equity and risk capital investment, and promote venture capital in general. On the labour market, Austria should reform the benefit and pension system, and in particular early retirement, and should reduce the high tax burden on labour.

Portugal: Economic activity is expected to accelerate in 2000. According to the stability programme, the government deficit should fall to 1.5% of GDP. The government is called on to exercise strict control over expenditure in order to achieve, as a minimum, the deficit forecast, to ensure that budgetary policy contributes to correcting the major imbalances in the economy and to reform health and pension systems.
On product markets, state aid should be reduced, competition law brought more closely into line with Community law, administrative procedures simplified, and R&D and ICT diffusion promoted. Portugal should develop the venture capital market. On the labour market, the government is called on to improve education and training, enhance the performance of the labour market, including by making it more flexible, and encourage partnership among social partners.

Finland: The rapid economic growth in recent years should continue. There is even a risk of overheating. According to the stability programme, the budget surplus should remain above 4% of GDP throughout the period 2000-03. Given the risk of overheating, a tight financial stance should be maintained, government expenditure relative to GDP reduced and the tax burden on labour eased.
On product and capital markets, the government is called on to strengthen competition in a range of sectors, to reform competition law, to open up markets for public services, to promote venture capital and to facilitate investments by institutional investors. On the labour market, Finland should review the overall benefit system, make job-searching more effective and reduce taxes, particularly on low wages.

Sweden: The Swedish economy is expected to continue to grow strongly in 2000. In order to achieve its target of a budgetary surplus of 2% of GDP, the government should tighten the stance of budgetary policy, maintain tight expenditure control and reduce the tax burden, while taking account of the need for budgetary consolidation.
On product markets, rules detrimental to competition should be reviewed in a number of areas, notably construction, pharmaceuticals, railways and air transport. On capital markets, the government should facilitate access to risk capital. In order to improve the labour-market situation, it is encouraged to reduce the burden of taxation on labour income and to adapt the benefit and assistance schemes.

United Kingdom: Economic growth in 2000 is expected to be even stronger. A surplus of 1.3% of GDP is anticipated for the financial year 1999/2000. The underlying position of government finances should be kept broadly unchanged.
On product and capital markets, the government is called on to encourage efforts in the fields of R&D and innovation, to invest more in road and rail networks, and to analyse the reasons for the low level of investment in venture capital by pension funds. On the labour market, it should take measures to address the problem of pockets of unemployment in certain regions and long-term unemployment in general.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Commission Report on the implementation of the 2002 broad economic policy guidelines [COM(2001) 105 final – not published in the Official Journal].

KEY ECONOMIC POLICY AREAS

Macroeconomic policies: In 2000 the EU recorded its best economic growth performance of the decade, with GDP growing by 3.4%, thanks to strong domestic and external demand. Higher oil prices moderated this growth slightly towards the end of the year, but inflation, despite gathering pace, remained under control. The ECB raised its key rate on six occasions, to 4.75%. Job creation remained strong and unemployment fell to 8.4%. Budgetary consolidation progressed and the government deficit in the euro area fell to 0.7% (net of UMTS proceeds), slightly better than forecast. Wage developments as a whole remained appropriate.

Fiscal consolidation: All Member States improved their budgetary positions, resulting in an overall decline in government debt. Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom significantly overachieved their targets. Others were unable to take full advantage of the faster pace of economic growth to improve their budgetary positions.

Quality and sustainabilityof public finances: Unlike in the 1990s, fiscal consolidation is based on expenditure restraint and not on tax increases. Little progress was made in the reform of public expenditure systems even if the issue of expenditure control is increasingly highlighted. Reforms of benefit systems lacked ambition although some efforts were made in certain countries.
As regards pension systems, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and the United Kingdom carried out reforms, while Belgium, Spain, France, Ireland and Finland created or announced the establishment of pension reserve funds. Some progress was made in reducing the tax burden: for the first time since 1970, the overall tax burden is on a declining trend. Measures were taken to reduce the tax burden, notably on low wages, in a number of countries. The Ecofin Council in November 2000 reached a significant agreement on the key points of the implementation of the tax package designed to curb harmful tax competition and reduce distortions within the single market.

Wage developments: Nominal wage increases in 2000 accelerated from the low rate in the previous year and wage moderation continued to prevail in general. No major initiatives have been taken to reform statutory minimum wages or the collective wage-bargaining process.

Knowledge-based economy: Overall spending on R&D remains at 1.8% of GDP, although this differs significantly between Member States. Europe still lags behind as regards private-sector involvement in R&D. Most Member States took steps to encourage firms to increase spending, particularly via tax measures.
The EU has been catching up with the United States in terms of ICT diffusion. The Internet penetration rate increased by 10 percentage points between April and October 2000 (to 28% of the population). However, there are important differences between Member States. Most countries have taken measures to strengthen ICT education and training.

Product markets (goods and services): The functioning of the single market has been improved thanks to progress in transposing directives in most Member States. Most countries have taken steps to open up public procurement (including Spain and Italy) and headway has been made in regard to competition policy and reducing sectoral and ad hoc state aid.
As regards public utilities, liberalisation of the telecommunications sector has contributed to significant reductions in prices for consumers. Progress is less clear in the energy sector, where differences between Member States persist. In the transport and postal sectors, still more needs to be done, including agreement on a general regulatory framework. The absence of a true internal market in services has led the Commission to adopt a new horizontal strategy for this sector. Headway has been made in reforming the regulatory framework: a number of countries have taken measures to reduce the administrative burden on enterprises.

Capital markets: Implementation of the Financial Services Action Plan has progressed well in many priority areas, such as the creation of a “single passport” for investment firms, electronic commerce, financial services and takeover bids. Progress has also been made in implementing the Risk Capital Action Plan. Countries have taken measures to ease constraints on institutional investors as well as fiscal disincentives to risk-taking. To safeguard the EU’s financial stability, the practical functioning of institutional arrangements has been improved, particularly as regards coordination between national supervisors.

Labour markets: The improvement in labour market performance continues and there has been a fall of almost one percentage point in unemployment in 2001. This is due to the cyclical upswing but also to a fall in structural unemployment. It should though be noted that progress has been uneven between Member States since some countries have not taken full advantage of macroeconomic conditions to introduce structural reforms. Member States have made good progress in implementing active and preventive measures to tackle youth and long-term unemployment. There remains scope for further reform of tax and benefit systems designed to introduce incentives to seek and take up employment or to remain in the labour market.
The lack of labour market flexibility is one of the factors underlying high structural unemployment in several Member States. There has been some progress in the modernisation of work organisation but the degree of involvement of the social partners in this area has been disappointing. Measures have been taken in most Member States to address low female employment rates and pay differentials between men and women.

Sustainable development: A number of Member States have taken action to strengthen market-based approaches to environmental issues, e.g. to shift the tax burden from labour to energy. Nevertheless, some Member States continue to grant subsidies for certain sources of energy, such as coal, that have a negative environmental impact. No progress has been made towards agreeing an appropriate framework for energy taxation at Community level.


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (2001)

1) Objective

To improve the conditions for economic growth and employment creation by way of an economic policy strategy consisting of growth- and stability-oriented macroeconomic policies and structural reforms aimed at sustainable, employment-creating and non-inflationary growth, with due account being taken of the need for sustainable development.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 15 June 2001 on the broad economic policy guidelines of the Member States and the Community [Official Journal L 179, 02.07.2001].

3) Summary

General framework. The 2001 broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) confirm the policy strategies of the previous BEPGs and extends them further in the light of the outcome of the Stockholm European Council in March 2001. A key objective for the European Union (EU) remains that of achieving full employment, among other things as a means of meeting the challenge of ageing populations. The European Council also stressed that the promotion of sustainable development should be integrated in the BEPGs.
Close coordination among economic policy actors and a dialogue between the Council, the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank (ECB) involving the Commission are essential in fostering harmonious economic developments, notably for the Member States participating in the euro area.

Main priorities and policy requirements

Recent and prospective economic developments. Since the adoption of the previous BEPGs, the global economic environment has become distinctly less favourable. While this slowdown is expected to be relatively short-lived, the risks of a less favourable outcome are considerable. Three factors are contributing to the slowdown. Firstly, oil prices increased in the autumn of 2000 and could remain relatively high. Secondly, there has been a sharp contraction in economic activity in the United States and Japan. This development is also affecting economic growth in a number of emerging countries. Third, volatility has remained very high on global equity markets, where a pronounced correction has taken place, especially in technology stocks, reflecting a downward shift in investors’ perception of the long-term profit outlook.
The second year of economic and monetary union (EMU) was a successful one. Economic growth in the euro area was the strongest for a decade, with unemployment falling to its lowest level. Higher oil prices and the downturn in global demand dented growth momentum. Nevertheless, the euro area looks set to continue to enjoy relatively solid economic growth of about 2.75 % in 2001 and 2002. Strongly improved macroeconomic fundamentals, including sustained wage moderation, have engendered a virtuous growth cycle firmly rooted in domestic demand. Furthermore, the large internal market coupled with the single currency makes the euro area less vulnerable and provides a stable base for growth.
The Member States not participating in the euro area, viz. Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden, are also being affected by the global economic slowdown. However, good progress on structural reforms and continuing healthy domestic demand position them well to weather the deteriorating external environment.

Short-term challenges. The task is to maintain growth and employment creation. In the context of increasingly less favourable global conditions, the EU and the euro area will have to rely increasingly on their own strengths. Growth- and stability-oriented macroeconomic policies and structural reforms are crucial to further enhancing internal growth dynamics. This could underpin business and consumer confidence.
Budgetary policies should avoid any excess demand. This is buttressing price stability and can facilitate monetary conditions conducive to economic growth and employment creation. In particular, budgetary policies should continue to be geared to the achievement of budgetary positions close to balance or in surplus.
Wage moderation must be preserved, particularly in the Member States already experiencing some labour market bottlenecks. EMU entails additional responsibilities for governments and social partners, who must contribute to a balanced macroeconomic policy mix both at Member State and euro-area level. Moreover, a judicious combination of structural reforms can thus increase further the resilience of the economy in absorbing the impact of shocks.

Medium-term challenges. The main goal is to consolidate the bases for future growth and employment. Although productivity gains have helped to improve potential output growth in recent years, this improvement is still considered insufficient to sustain annual growth rates of 3 % over an extended period of time. The EU must, therefore, improve the functioning of markets by addressing the market imperfections or failures that still exist. This will make for improved use of productive resources. In particular, human resources are currently underutilised in the EU, with unemployment remaining unacceptably high and a relatively low employment rate, especially for older workers and women.
Labour market regulation and institutions should be reviewed so as to diminish obstacles to labour demand and supply. The regulatory framework should encourage people to enter into or remain in the labour market. For this, tax and benefit schemes should be reformed. This increase in labour supply must be accompanied by an improvement in the investment climate. To this end, the EU is focusing on completing the internal market, especially in the service sector, the financial sector and network industries. In addition, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, which is an integral part of the Lisbon strategy, is necessary in order to increase Europe’s growth potential. To this same end, Member States are called on to encourage private investment in Research and Development R&D.
At world level, the promotion of competition finds its logical complement in the pursuit of a common commercial policy that favours open world trade and a new multilateral trade round within the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Long-term challenges. In the long term, population ageing is the major challenge facing the EU. In 2050 the EU’s working-age population will have fallen by approximately 40 million people while the old-age dependency ratio will have doubled. The impact on public finances is already beginning to be felt in some Member States. Expenditure on public pensions and healthcare will increase substantially, and this will have considerable consequences for the sustainability of public finances.
Population-ageing will have implications for potential labour supply and the level of aggregate savings and thus for economic growth. Ambitious strategies are needed to address the economic and budgetary challenges: pension systems need to be reformed, e.g. by raising the effective retirement age. Public pension fund reserves would have to be set up and supplementary private pension schemes encouraged.

General recommendations

Implementation of macroeconomic policies:

  • to achieve budget positions of close to balance or in surplus so as to provide a sufficient margin to cope with the impact of adverse cyclical fluctuations;
  • to avoid pro-cyclical fiscal policies;
  • to avoid in certain Member States inflationary pressures and overheating of the economy by tightening budgetary policy, pursuing wage moderation and taking structural reforms further;
  • to ensure that wage increases are consistent with price stability, do not exceed the growth of productivity and take account of productivity differences according to skill, qualification or geographical area.

Quality and sustainability of public finances:

  • to make tax and benefit systems more employment-friendly by reducing the overall tax burden, especially with respect to low-wage labour;
  • to redirect public expenditure towards physical and human capital accumulation and R&D;
  • to enhance the efficiency of public spending by institutional and structural reforms, in particular by controlling spending;
  • to improve the long-term sustainability of public finances by pursuing a strategy combining measures to raise employment rates, rapidly reduce government debt and reform the pension and health systems;
  • to pursue tax coordination in order to avoid harmful tax competition;
  • to maintain strict budgetary discipline at Community level.

Labour market:

  • to implement the employment guidelines and recommendations addressed to Member States by the Council;
  • to promote increased participation in the labour market, especially among women and older workers;
  • to ensure that tax and benefit systems make work pay and to reduce the burden of taxation on labour;
  • to bring down the obstacles to labour mobility within and between Member States, notably through the mutual recognition of qualifications and improved portability of pensions;
  • to facilitate occupational labour mobility by improving education, training and life-long learning;
  • to improve the efficiency of active labour market policies and to target these policies towards those individuals most prone to the risk of long-term unemployment;
  • to promote more flexible work organisation, including working-time arrangements and the regulatory, contractual and legal framework;
  • to reduce gender pay differences due to de facto discrimination.

Product markets (goods and services):

  • to complete the internal market by increasing the rate of transposal of directives, eliminating technical barriers to trade, removing regulatory barriers on service markets and further opening up public procurement;
  • to reinforce competition by accelerating the liberalisation of network industries (energy, rail, air transport and postal services), by ensuring effective independence and effectiveness of the competition authorities and by reducing the overall level of state aid as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP).

Efficiency and integration of the EU financial services market:

  • to implement the approach endorsed in respect of securities markets legislation;
  • to implement the Financial Services Action Plan by 2005, in particular with a view to creating an integrated securities market by the end of 2003;
  • to set in place a risk capital market through implementation of the Risk Capital Action Plan by 2003;
  • to improve, via increasing linkages, supervisory arrangements across sectors and across borders in the field of prudential supervision.

Entrepreneurship:

  • to create a business-friendly environment by reducing the administrative burden for business, by increasing the efficiency of public services and by simplifying and ensuring a more uniform application of VAT systems;
  • to improve access to the various kinds of funding, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their early stages.

Knowledge-based economy:

  • to stimulate R&D and innovation, notably by strengthening intellectual property rights and achieving agreement on how to deliver the Community patent, by improving ties between universities and business, by enhancing collaboration in Europe via networks of centres of excellence and by ensuring sufficient funding;
  • to promote access and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by implementing the unbundling of the “local loop” in order to reduce the costs of using the Internet, by ensuring more widespread use of the Internet in schools and in public administrations and by strengthening the regulatory framework for e-commerce;
  • to strengthen education and training efforts by increasing the number of experts and the basic skills, in particular ICT skills, of the population and by enhancing the capabilities of education systems to respond to changes in requirements.

Sustainable development:

  • to implement the European sustainable development strategy agreed by the Gothenburg European Council;
  • to introduce and strengthen market-based policies such as taxation and user and polluter charges;
  • to reduce sectoral subsidies and tax exemptions;
  • to intensify the use of economic instruments in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fulfil the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol;
  • to agree on an appropriate framework for energy taxation at European level and for the creation of a single market in energy.

Country-specific economic policy guidelines

Belgium: After the economy expanded by 4 % in 2000, real GDP is expected to increase at around 3 % in 2001 and 2002. Belgium managed to balance its budget in 2000. The government is projecting a surplus of 0.2 % in 2001 and 0.3 % in 2002. It should take steps to ensure that the surplus projected in its stability programme is achieved and to contain the increase in expenditure within the limit set. In 2002 and beyond, the budgetary margins should be used to reduce debt.
To prepare the country for the implications of population ageing, a reform of the pension system is needed. On the labour market, the reform of the tax and benefit systems should be continued. In addition, labour market flexibility and labour mobility should be enhanced.
Competition in transport, gas and electricity needs to be increased. Belgium is encouraged to increase the transparency of the links between the public and private sectors, notably at local level, and to simplify the administrative burden on businesses. The risk capital market should be further developed.

Denmark: The economic expansion is expected to slow somewhat to slightly above 2 % in 2001. According to the government, the budget surplus should increase to 2.8 % of GDP in 2001 and 2.6 % in 2002. Denmark should strictly limit the increase in government consumption in 2001 and in the medium term and should maintain high government surpluses.
If the labour market is to remain one of the best in the European Union, the government should further reduce the overall fiscal pressure on labour, especially for low- and medium-wage earners, and should continue reforms of transfer systems. It should also strengthen enforcement of competition rules and should enhance conditions for competition in public procurement and develop the risk capital market by further adapting the fiscal framework so as to facilitate investment.

Germany: Economic growth in Germany should be 2.25 % in 2001 and 2.5 % in 2002. Leaving aside UMTS proceeds, the government deficit fell to 1.0 % of GDP in 2000. According to the stability programme and thanks to the tax reform, the deficit should be 0.5 % in 2001 before falling gradually to zero by 2004. The government should ensure that projected deficits are met. Higher-than-projected revenues should be used to reduce the deficit. It is important to reinforce coordination among the various levels of government in order to establish a national stability pact. The government is called on to pursue pension reform and reform of the healthcare sector.
Active labour market programmes should be made more efficient and targeted towards long-term unemployment. Reforms of the tax system should make work pay. Non-labour costs should also be reduced. Competition on product markets and in public procurement could be reinforced. The higher education system should be reformed in order to meet the shortages of IT personnel. The government is called on to develop the risk capital market.

Greece: Economic activity in Greece is expected to accelerate in 2000, with GDP set to rise by 4.8 % in 2002. The stability programme projects that the Greek budget will run a surplus of 0.5 % in 2001 and 1.5 % in 2002. The government’s budgetary stance for 2001/2002 is oriented towards price stability and towards pursuing the reform of the public sector in order to reduce its size in the medium term and to accelerate the reform of the social security sector in order to ensure the viability of the system.
Greece should press ahead with its labour market reforms by loosening restrictive employment protection legislation in particular and should improve incentives to work in the formal sector of the economy. Wages should take better account of productivity and local labour market conditions. Investment in education and training should also be stepped up.
The government is called on to reduce the administrative burden on business and to encourage investment in R&D and the wider diffusion of ICT. Moreover, the liberalisation of the gas and sea transport sectors should be speeded up. The risk capital market should be developed further by easing constraints on institutional investors.

Spain: Economic growth in Spain is forecast to decelerate in 2001 compared with previous years and to recover slightly in 2002. According to the stability programme, the budget is expected to be in balance in 2001 and to show a surplus of 0.3 % by 2004. The government should hold back current expenditure in order to achieve a budget balance in 2001 and should monitor inflationary pressures. The tax reform planned for 2002 must not jeopardise the budgetary objectives. The public pension fund reserve must be increased.
As regards the labour market, Spain is called on to reform the wage formation process in order to take better account of productivity differentials, to invest in education and training (in particular, to tailor active employment policies more closely to labour market requirements) and to take steps to ensure a balance between flexibility and security. The basic ICT skills of the population and the supply of highly qualified personnel should also be increased. The regulatory framework for SMEs should be simplified. The government is also called on to develop the risk capital market further, especially by easing constraints on institutional investors.

France: In 2001 and 2002 economic growth of just under 3 % is expected. The public deficit in 2000 was below target. According to the stability programme, further reductions in the deficit are to be pursued in order to run a budget surplus in 2004. To this end, the government should monitor public spending in 2001 and beyond and use any available margin to strengthen the budgetary position as preparation for meeting long-term challenges. It is therefore called on to make further progress in reforming the pension system.
On the labour market, France should consolidate recent reforms of the tax and benefit systems and should pay particular attention to early retirement schemes and income guarantee schemes. It should monitor closely the effects of the implementation of the 35-hour working week and should reform employment protection. Network industries, especially the gas and electricity sectors, should be liberalised. France is called on to continue the reduction of ad hoc state aid, to reduce the administrative burden on businesses and to develop the risk capital market, notably by easing constraints on institutional investors.

Ireland: The buoyant economic growth recorded in Ireland is expected to slow down somewhat in 2001 and 2002. The stability programme projects budget surpluses of around 4.2 % of GDP for the period 2001-03. Public finances are sound. However, in February the Council issued a recommendation to Ireland on account of the expansionary budget for 2001. The government has therefore been called on to use countervailing measures to align the budget plans for 2001 more closely with the 2000 BEPGs and to prepare a budget for 2002 that contributes to an easing of the pace of demand and to improved expenditure control. While budgetary stability should be observed, investment in infrastructure, human capital and R&D should be increased.
The government should take care to ensure that wage developments remain consistent with price stability and that the participation of women in the labour market is increased. Measures are needed to introduce more competition into specific markets, notably transport, electricity and gas, to increase R&D expenditure and to develop the risk capital market further.

Italy: Economic activity in Italy is expected to slow down in 2001 but to pick up again in 2002. According to the stability programme, the government deficit is projected to improve in 2001 and 2002 and to reach a balance in 2003. The government should ensure that these objectives are met and, in particular, should match any losses of revenue stemming from tax reductions with offsetting expenditure cuts and rationalisation measures. Every opportunity should be taken to accelerate the reduction in the still excessive level of government debt. The domestic stability pact must be strengthened in order to control expenditure at all levels of government. To ensure the sustainability of long-term government finances, the pension system needs to be reviewed.
As regards the labour market, Italy is called upon to ensure that wage developments take better account of productivity, to increase labour market flexibility and to reform the taxation of labour and social security contributions, notably for those at the lowest end of the wage scale. The government should aim to promote business sector involvement in R&D, foster the diffusion of ICT, press ahead with the liberalisation of the energy sector, further reduce the administrative burden on businesses, increase competition and further develop the risk capital market, in particular by easing constraints on institutional investors.

Luxembourg: Economic growth will be around 5 % of GDP in 2001 and 2002 on the back of strong domestic demand. The budget surplus in 2001 and 2002 should decline to between 3 % and 4 % of GDP in the wake of a tax reform. The government should pursue a more restrictive budgetary policy in order to counter inflationary pressures and to monitor government expenditures closely.
On the labour market, Luxembourg should increase its national employment rate, especially for women and older workers. The reform of competition legislation should be implemented while fixed and monitored prices should be abolished.

Netherlands: The recent macroeconomic performance in the Netherlands has been noteworthy. Economic growth is expected to increase by some 3 % in 2001 and 2002. According to the stability programme, the government surplus is projected to fall to 0.7 % in 2001 following tax reforms. The government should maintain control of public expenditure in order to contain inflationary pressures and improve the budgetary outcome in 2002 as against 2001. Budgetary margins should be used to speed up the reduction in government debt.
As regards the labour market, the government is called upon to continue reforms of the tax and benefit system to make work pay. The Netherlands should promote the use of ICT, create a climate more conducive to innovation, facilitate market entry in electricity, gas, cable networks and public transport, and further develop the risk capital market.

Austria: Economic activity is expected to grow by some 2.5 % in 2001 and growth will remain buoyant in 2002. A budgetary consolidation programme has been launched and, according to the stability programme, the government deficit is projected to fall to 0.75 % in 2001 and zero in 2002. The government is called on to ensure tight budgetary execution at all levels of government in order to meet the targets of the stability programme, to reduce the tax burden in subsequent years without jeopardising budgetary consolidation and to reform the pension and healthcare systems so as to counter rising expenditure and to cope with population ageing.
As regards the labour market, Austria should take steps to ensure that there are greater incentives for older workers to remain active. In addition, the Community’s public procurement directives should be transposed and public procurement should be further opened up to competition, while development of the knowledge-based economy should be promoted, the supply of ICT-skilled personnel increased and the risk capital market further developed, notably by easing constraints on institutional investors.

Portugal: Economic activity is likely to slow down and growth is estimated at just over 2.5 % in 2001 and 2002. According to the stability programme, the deficit should fall to 1.1 % in 2001 and 0.7 % in 2002. The government is expected to meet its budgetary target in 2001 and, to this end, should adhere strictly to current expenditure plans, prepare a budget for 2002 which aims at a faster decline in the deficit than planned in the stability programme, preferably by reducing expenditure, and reform the social security and healthcare systems.
As regards the labour market, Portugal is called on to increase investment in the education and training systems, enhance the quality of work and modernise labour market institutions. It should also raise the level of R&D investment, promote the diffusion of ICT, reduce state aid, liberalise the energy sector and develop the risk capital market, notably by easing constraints on institutional investors.

Finland: Economic growth is forecast to be around 4 % in 2001 and 2002. The budget is in healthy surplus and, according to the stability programme, a surplus equivalent to some 4 % of GDP seems possible in the medium term. The government should adhere to the expenditure target and maintain government surpluses in 2001 and beyond in order to contend with population ageing, to which Finland is particularly exposed. The policy of debt reduction should be pursued and the effective retirement age should be raised.
On the labour market, the government is called on to reduce tax rates, especially for low-wage earners, adapt social security benefits in order to improve incentives to take up job offers and to stay in the labour force, and to increase the efficiency of active labour market programmes. In addition, compliance with public procurement rules should be enhanced, competition in distribution, construction and the media sector increased and the risk capital market further developed.

Sweden: Economic activity has slowed down somewhat and growth is forecast at 2.7 % in 2001 and 3 % in 2002. According to the convergence programme, the budget surplus should be 3.5 % and 3.3 % respectively. The government is called on to maintain high government surpluses in 2001 and subsequent years, to continue with its strategy of lowering taxes while attaining the medium-term surplus target of 2 % and to reduce public debt.
As regards the labour market, Sweden is called upon to ensure the efficiency of active labour market programmes and pursue reforms of the tax and benefit systems. In addition, compliance with public procurement rules should be enhanced and competition increased in air transport and pharmaceuticals. Sweden is also called on to develop the risk capital market further by adapting the fiscal framework.

United Kingdom: Economic growth should reach 2.7 % in 2001 and 3 % in 2002. The recent budgetary projections show a surplus of 1.7 % of GDP (excluding UMTS receipts) in the financial year 2000/01, with a reduction to 0.5 % predicted for the following year and a slight deficit thereafter. The government should ensure that the targets are achieved and, as announced, could double public investment while ensuring that the rules of the stability and growth pact are met.
As regards the labour market, the United Kingdom is called on to reinforce the measures targeted at those individuals most prone to the risk of unemployment and reform benefit schemes so as to provide the necessary incentives. It should also address the low level of productivity, increase competition in banking and postal services, step up investment in public transport and encourage pension funds to play a greater role in developing the risk capital market.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Commission report on the implementation of the 2001 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines [COM(2002) 93 final, not published in the Official Journal].

Overview of key policy areas

Implementation of macroeconomic policies. The macroeconomic environment deteriorated much more sharply than expected in 2001 because of a number of adverse economic shocks and the terrorist attacks of 11 September, which brought economic growth to a standstill towards the end of the year. Employment growth decelerated but remained positive and inflation fell during the year.
Given the lower risks to price stability the monetary authorities cut interest rates on several occasions. The budget position deteriorated on account of the economic slowdown as the automatic stabilisers took effect and following the tax reforms in a number of countries. The EU-wide budget deficit increased from 0.1 % of GDP in 2000 to 0.5 % in 2001, while the euro-area budget deficit rose from 0.8 % to 1.1 % (net of UMTS receipts). It was only in Greece, Spain, Italy and Austria that outcomes were better than in 2000.
While the trend in nominal wages remained moderate in 2001, the euro area witnessed an acceleration in real wages slightly in excess of labour productivity growth.

Quality and sustainability of public finances. The share of government expenditure in GDP decreased while public investment remained stable in many Member States, fostering growth and employment. An increasing number of Member States introduced reforms aimed at containing expenditure through multiannual programmes and agreements between different levels of government. The long-term sustainability of public finances made mixed progress depending on the Member State concerned. Several Member States achieved budget surpluses, while others (Germany, France, Italy and Portugal) still have some way to go. Several Member States successfully pursued reforms of pension systems that are becoming urgent in view of population ageing.

Labour market. The labour market suffered from the economic environment and employment growth fell to 1.1 %, the unemployment rate having decreased slightly to 7.8 % by the end of the year. The situation differs between Member States. Many countries reformed their benefit systems and, in so doing, reduced the tax burden on labour, notably for low-wage earners. The reforms of benefit systems are not sufficiently targeted towards enhancing work incentives. In only a few cases were measures taken to boost geographical mobility, whether between Member States or within them. Spain, Greece and Portugal are reforming their educational system in general. Most countries are having difficulty in better targeting active labour market policies. The organisation of working time has become more flexible in recent years in some Member States (part-time work, fixed-term contracts, temporary agency work and teleworking).

Product market (goods and services). Progress has been mixed. Goods markets are becoming increasingly integrated. The transposal of internal market directives improved. However, barriers to cross-border trade still exist for a number of specific products. By contrast, little progress was made in creating an internal market in services. The opening-up of public procurement markets continued. The reinforcement of competition resulted in lower prices in the telecommunications and electricity sectors. However, differences persist between Member States and between sectors, while the liberalisation process is less advanced as regards railways and postal services. Overall state aid, the data on which are available only with some time lag, continued to decrease in the vast majority of Member States and transparency improved. The EU average declined to 1.2 % of GDP in 1997-99.

Efficiency and integration of EU financial markets. Regulation of European securities markets made good progress following the agreement of the European Parliament on the approach proposed by the Committee of Wise Men. Implementation of the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) progressed significantly, as did implementation of the Risk Capital Action Plan (RCAP). Several Member States took measures aimed at developing the risk capital market.

Entrepreneurship. A great variety of measures were taken to reduce the regulatory burden on business, to stimulate business creation and to ease access to finance for SMEs. Differences do though remain between Member States, notably in the area of taxation. Most Member States took measures to promote business start-ups and SMEs. Initiatives were launched to reduce the business tax burden.

Knowledge-based economy. The Member States took various measures to increase business investment in R&D. However, the deadline for agreeing on how to deliver the Community patent was missed. The ICT take-up was only moderate in comparison with previous years. Progress in unbundling the local loop was slow. In spite of the fall in Internet access prices and the increase in Internet access at home, the EU did not close the gap with the United States. The share of schools in which pupils have access to the Internet is above 70 % in most Member States. A number of governments took measures to increase the number of ICT experts and to promote basic ICT skills among the population.

Sustainable development. Various initiatives were launched, including the Directive on emissions trading and the White Paper on the European Transport Policy. Progress in Member States included the following: the United Kingdom and Denmark introduced a system of tradable emission permits, while several other countries are examining the possibility of so doing. Although a large number of different measures were taken by Member States to promote sustainable development, the discussions on energy taxation made little or no progress.

Assessment by Member State

Belgium. Belgium made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations and the labour market recommendations, but no major measures were taken to promote more wage flexibility. Some progress was made with regard to product markets while there was good progress in developing the risk capital market.

Denmark. The government made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations of the 2001 BEPGs, while limited progress was made in implementing the 2001 labour market recommendation. Some progress was made in implementing the product market and capital market recommendations.

Germany. Progress was made in implementing the budgetary recommendations even though budget deficits increased markedly in the wake of the economic downturn and tax reforms. Some progress was made on the labour market and the “Job Aktiv” law is a first step in the right direction although more needs to be done. The government made good progress in implementing the product market recommendations and there was also progress in implementing the capital market recommendations.

Greece. Some progress was made on the budgetary front, leading to a significant improvement in the government finance situation. The reform of the social security sector has not yet been initiated. On product markets too, some progress was made, although in some areas such as R&D and competition progress was slow. The government made some progress with the capital market recommendations.

Spain. Spain made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations; It is likely to have met the target of a balanced budget in 2001. Some progress was made on the labour market while substantial progress was made with regard to the product and capital markets.

France. France made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations although budgetary adjustment slowed down markedly. Some progress was made regarding the labour market but no legislation was introduced to increase employment protection. Some progress was made as regards the product and capital markets

Ireland. The government made satisfactory progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made with labour market reforms and on capital markets, while good progress was made as regards the product market recommendations.

Italy. Italy made some progress on the budgetary front and consolidation continued. Some progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendations. The government also took measures to implement the product and capital market recommendations of the BEPGs.

Luxembourg. The government correctly implemented the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendation but implementation of the product market recommendations does leave something to be desired.

Netherlands. Altogether, the Netherlands made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made on the budgetary front but there has still not yet been any reform of the disability scheme. Good progress was made in implementing the product market recommendations while there was some progress in implementing the capital market recommendations.

Austria. The government made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made as regards labour and capital markets while more significant progress was made regarding the capital market.

Portugal. Altogether, Portugal made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations although the deficit increased in the wake of the economic slowdown. Some progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendations but employment protection legislation was not eased. Progress on product markets was satisfactory and some progress was made on capital markets.

Finland. Altogether, Finland made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations and the budgetary position remained sound. Good progress was made on the labour market, where efforts were aimed at reducing structural unemployment. Some progress was made in implementing the product and capital market recommendations.

Sweden. The budgetary recommendations of the BEPGs were implemented satisfactorily. Good progress was also made in implementing the labour market recommendations. However, limited progress was made in implementing the product market recommendations and no measures were taken to increase competition in specific sectors. Some progress was made in implementing the capital market recommendations.

United Kingdom. The government made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Good progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendations and some progress was made as regards product and capital markets.


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (2002)

1) Objective

To improve conditions for economic growth and job creation by way of an economic policy strategy based both on growth- and stability- oriented macroeconomic policies and on structural reforms to promote sustainable, job-creating and non-inflationary growth, while taking account of sustainable development.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation of 21 June 2002 on the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the Member States and the Community [Official Journal L 182 of 11.07.2002].

3) Summary

MAIN PRIORITIES AND POLICY REQUIREMENTS

After a sharp and unexpected slowdown in economic activity and a deceleration in job creation in 2001, economic growth seems to be picking up. An improvement in confidence and in external demand point to a growth rate close to the potential estimated for the European Union (EU) in the second half of 2002. However, it is unlikely that unemployment will drop noticeably before 2003. Inflationary pressures are expected to remain contained.

The EU’s goal is to achieve a balanced and sustainable expansion of economic activity. To meet the Lisbon European Council’s objective of making Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by the year 2010, the rate of potential growth must be increased and the pace of economic reform stepped up. Action must concentrate on four main areas:

  • Safeguarding and strengthening the macroeconomic framework
    The EU’s macroeconomic framework is based on two pillars: price stability and a sound budgetary policy. To allow automatic stabilisers to operate freely over the economic cycle, while respecting the 3% of GDP government deficit limit, Member States need to redouble their efforts to complete the transition to budgetary positions close to balance or in surplus by 2004. Beyond providing leeway for automatic stabilisers, this will allow for a steady decline in government debt, enabling budgetary challenges, including the ageing of the population, to be dealt with.
  • Promoting more and better jobs

    Although the labour market reforms undertaken in the 1990s have produced good results, unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment, is still high in a number of Member States. Obstacles to the geographical and occupational mobility of the unemployed persist. Labour force participation rates for women and older workers remain unsatisfactory. Member States therefore need to take steps to raise participation rates and reduce unemployment. This will require the reform of tax and benefit systems and the labour market. The Barcelona European Council has called for the effective average retirement age to be increased by five years by 2010.
  • Strengthening conditions for high productivity growth

    To meet future challenges linked to the ageing of the population and to achieve a sustainable GDP growth rate of 3%, the productivity of the European economy must be increased. To boost competitiveness, entrepreneurship and investment, European energy, communication, services and labour markets need to be integrated further.
  • Promoting sustainable development

    The external effects of economic activities on the environment must be priced in. Investments in resource and energy efficiency can promote innovation and job creation. Economic policies can also contribute to economic and social cohesion, since job creation is the best protection against poverty and social exclusion.

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

The broad economic policy guidelines encourage the Member States to take action in the following areas:

Macroeconomic policies

  • achieve or maintain budgetary positions of close to balance or in surplus over the economic cycle, and if this is not yet the case, take the necessary action to ensure that these objectives are met (by 2004 at the latest)
  • avoid pro-cyclical fiscal policies and allow automatic stabilisers to operate in full as the recovery gets under way
  • ensure that wage increases are consistent with price stability and productivity growth

Quality and sustainability of public finances

  • promote the quality of public expenditure by redirecting funds towards physical and human capital accumulation and research
  • improve the long-term sustainability of public finances by pursing the three-pronged strategy of raising employment rates, reducing public debt and adapting pension systems
  • strengthen tax coordination between the Member States

Labour markets

  • make employment more attractive by reforming tax and benefit systems
  • strengthen active labour market policies by improving their efficiency
  • reduce obstacles to mobility and remove barriers to female labour force participation

Structural reform in product markets

  • Internal market: increase the transposal rate of Internal Market directives, remove technical barriers to free movement, especially in the services sector and further open up public procurement markets.
  • Competition: ensure effective and independent competition authorities to secure effective competition, reduce state aid and ensure its effectiveness.
  • Network industries: encourage market entry in general and in the gas and electricity markets in particular. Member States should provide incentives to build new infrastructure

Efficiency and integration of the EU financial services market

  • speed up the integration of financial markets to reduce the costs of accessing capital by implementing the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) by 2005 and the Risk Capital Action Plan (RCAP) by 2003
  • improve cooperation and coordination arrangements at all levels for prudential purposes

Entrepreneurship

  • create a business-friendly environment, in particular by simplifying the corporate tax system, increasing the efficiency of public services and reducing barriers to cross-border activity associated with differences between Member States (in accounting standards, corporate governance, taxation and VAT)
  • translate into action the commitments made under the European Charter for Small Enterprises
  • improve access to finance, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Knowledge-based economy

  • stimulate research and development (R&D) and innovation by raising overall spending, improving ties between universities and business, enhancing cooperation between Member States, and adopting the sixth Research Framework Programme
  • promote information and communication technologies (ICT) by ensuring effective competition and stimulating wider Internet use (definition of a new e-Europe 2005 Action Plan)
  • strengthen education and training efforts in order to increase the number of highly qualified personnel and improve the basic skills of citizens

Sustainable development

  • conduct social and environmental impact analyses of planned policy measures
  • strengthen policies based on economic instruments like taxation, user and polluter charges or voluntary commitments
  • introduce an emissions trading system at EU level to meet the requirements of the Kyoto protocol
  • encourage the disclosure of environmental information in the annual accounts of companies
  • reduce sectoral subsidies and tax exemptions which have a negative environmental impact
  • reach a European agreement on energy taxation

COUNTRY-SPECIFIC ECONOMIC POLICY GUIDELINES

Belgium: Economic growth is not expected to exceed 1% in 2002 but should reach some 3% in 2003. Belgium should seek in 2002 to avoid any deterioration in public finances compared with 2001. The goal for 2003 is a budget surplus of 0.5%. Belgium should consolidate reform of the tax systems, increase labour mobility, promote a proper balance between the flexibility and security of employment and increase the employment rate for women. There needs to be an increase in competition in electricity and gas and a reduction in the administrative burden for businesses.

Denmark: Economic growth of 1.75% in 2002 and 2.5% in 2003 is forecast, driven mainly by domestic demand. The Danish budget is in surplus, but Denmark should ensure that the Government’s target of restraining growth in government consumption is met. Danish labour market performance is the best in the EU, with an employment rate of 76%, the unemployment rate having been reduced to 4.3% in 2001. Denmark should continue its efforts to open up markets to competition, especially in gas and electricity.

Germany: Economic activity should recover in the second half of 2002, but growth will nevertheless remain below 1%. Germany recorded a budget deficit of 2.7% in 2001, which exceeded the target set in its most recent stability programme. The German Government has therefore undertaken to comply with the 3% of GDP reference value and reach a close-to-balance budgetary position in 2004. Budgetary policy should aim to ensure that the deficit does not exceed 3% of GDP and that it is reduced in 2003 in order to meet the target for 2004. Any budgetary room for manoeuvre should be used to reduce the deficit, and the health care system should be reformed. Germany should reform its tax and benefit systems to make work pay, improve the efficiency of active labour market policies and make work organisation more flexible. It should also ensure effective competition on electricity and gas markets.

Greece: The Government continued its policy of deficit reduction and forecasts a budget surplus of 0.8% of GDP for 2002. Economic growth is expected to accelerate in 2003. Greek budgetary policy should aim not to contribute to inflationary pressures, to apply clearly defined norms for current expenditure and to speed up the reform of the social security systems. Greece should also reform pension entitlements, improve education and training systems, continue to eliminate distortions to work incentives and reform the wage formation system. Business involvement in R&D and information technology diffusion should be encouraged. The public administration needs to be streamlined, and effective competition promoted in liberalised network industries.

Spain: After a slowdown, economic activity should grow in line with potential in 2003. In 2001, the Spanish budget was in balance for the first time in 25 years. The Government should continue its policy of expenditure restraint and ensure that the tax reform in 2003 does not undermine the medium-term stability of public finances. A comprehensive review of the pension system is also needed. On the Spanish labour market, wage formation should be reformed, labour mobility promoted, and participation rates, especially among women, increased. Spain should also reduce the administrative burden for businesses and increase competition, including in the liberalised telecommunications and energy sectors.

France: Economic activity will rebound in the course of 2002. According to the stability programme, the budget deficit should reach 1.9% of GDP before decreasing in 2003; the new Government has launched a public finance audit. The French Government should ensure that the budget deficit does not exceed the 3% of GDP reference value in 2002 and that any tax cuts are deficit-neutral so as to reach a close-to-balance budgetary position in 2004. Structural reforms, especially of the pension system, are needed. France should consolidate recent reforms of the tax and benefit system and monitor the effects of implementing the 35-hour week. It is encouraged to reduce the administrative burden on businesses and to speed up the liberalisation of gas and electricity.

Ireland: With an economic recovery in 2002, Ireland should reach a growth rate of about 5% to 6% in 2003. The stability programme targets a small budget surplus in 2002 and a small deficit for 2003. The Irish Government should ensure that the budgetary stance for 2002 is broadly neutral and should then continue to comply with the close-to-balance or surplus requirement. On the labour market, conditions approaching full employment are expected to continue and Ireland should promote the setting of wages in line with productivity developments. It is encouraged to increase effective competition in the local telecommunications, electricity, gas and transport sectors.

Italy: Economic growth is expected to pick up in the course of 2002, but will remain below 2%, reaching 2.75% in 2003. The stability programme targets a budget deficit of 0.5% for 2002 and a balanced budget in 2003. The Government should ensure that deficit-reduction commitments are kept to and that the tax reform does not undermine the objective of a balanced budget. It should also address the pension system as part of social security reform. Italy is encouraged to continue reforms to increase labour market flexibility, encourage the social partners to allow wages to take more account of productivity disparities, increase labour force participation, especially among women, and reduce the tax burden on labour, especially on low-paid earners. It should promote competition in the services sector and on the energy market. The administrative burden on businesses should be reduced.

Luxembourg: The budgetary surplus is expected to decline again in 2002 but increase moderately in 2003 as the economy picks up. The Government should aim to contain current government expenditure. As regards the labour market, Luxembourg should take steps to increase the national employment rate, especially for older workers and women. The announced reform of competition legislation should be implemented and the administrative burden on businesses should be reduced.

Netherlands: Economic growth of 1.5% is expected for 2002 and 2.75% for 2003. The budget will be in balance in 2002 and moderately in deficit in 2003. The Netherlands should ensure that the budgetary stance does not contribute to inflationary pressures in 2002 and should avoid deterioration in public finances in 2003. The labour market continues to perform very well. The Government should make work pay by reforming the benefit system and the disability scheme. The Netherlands should encourage investment in R&D and remove obstacles to competition in services.

Austria: In 2003, thanks to the economic upturn, output expansion should approach its potential of 2.5%. The stability programme forecasts a balanced budget in 2002 and 2003. To meet this objective, the Government should make structural expenditure savings, especially at decentralised levels of government. The planned reduction in the tax burden should not conflict with the target of budgetary balance. The pension system needs reviewing. The labour market continues to perform very satisfactorily. The Government should promote the diffusion of information and communication technologies and investment in R&D, as well as reducing the administrative burden on businesses.

Portugal: Economic growth should reach 1.5% in 2002 and 2.25% in 2003. Portugal’s budget deficit deteriorated in 2001 to well over the target of 1.1%. The Portuguese Government therefore undertook to comply with the 3%-of-GDP reference value and reach a balanced position in 2004. The new Government adopted a rectifying budget in May 2002. Budgetary policy should ensure that the deficit does not exceed 3% of GDP in 2002 and should achieve a close-to-balance budgetary position by 2004. To meet this goal, additional measures beyond those included in the 2001 updated stability programme will be needed. Pension reform should be continued, and health care expenditure curbed. To maintain the favourable labour market situation, Portugal should improve its education and training system, monitor wage developments and modernise the labour market institutions. The Government should also promote investment in R&D and enhance competition, especially in energy.

Finland: Finland should see economic activity pick up in 2002-2003. According to estimates, the budgetary surplus has dropped. Budgetary policy should avoid a significant deviation from the medium-term spending forecasts, improve budgetary discipline at local-government level and continue with pension reform to cope with the ageing of the population. To reduce the unemployment rate, and especially the level of structural unemployment, Finland should take action to make work pay, increase the efficiency of active labour market programmes and refocus them onto long-term unemployment. The Finnish Government should facilitate business creation, enhance competition in the public service sector and reform the application of the Community competition rules.

Sweden: Economic growth of 1.7% in 2002 and 2.8% in 2003 is expected. The Government forecasts surpluses of 1.8% of GDP in both these years. To achieve its target of an average budget surplus of 2% over the cycle, Sweden should continue with the strategy of lowering taxes in 2002, while at the same time adhering to the expenditure ceiling set and maintaining tight expenditure control in 2003. In order to improve the labour market situation even further, Sweden should pursue the reforms of the tax and benefit systems and make active labour market programmes more efficient. The Swedish Government should also enhance competition in public service provision.

United Kingdom: Growth in 2002 is expected to reach 2%. According to the convergence programme, the budget surpluses of previous years will give way to a deficit of some 1% of GDP in the financial year 2002-2003 and following years. Government debt should fall to 36.3% in 2006-2007. The UK should allow public investment to rise, while avoiding any deterioration in public finances. To ensure a dynamic labour market, the UK should reinforce active measures targeted at those most prone to unemployment and should reform sickness and disability benefit schemes. The Government should continue to improve competition in specific sectors and deliver the announced infrastructure investment in the railways.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Commission communication on the implementation of the 2002 broad economic policy guidelines [COM(2003) 4 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission presented an assessment of the implementation of the 2002 economic policy guidelines at EU level and for each of the Member States.

OVERVIEW OF MACROECONOMIC POLICIES

Economic growth and inflation. There was no pick-up in economic growth in 2002. Although growth remained slack (put at below 1%), there was still progress in creating jobs. However, inflation was slow to come down and there remained differentials between Member States. According to Eurostat, the changeover to the euro accounted for no more than 0%-0.2% of inflation in the first half of 2002.

Interest rates. The monetary policy of the ECB was kept on hold during most of 2002. In December, as a result of lower inflationary risks, the ECB cut its interest rates by 0.5%.

Quality and sustainability of public finances. Budgets deteriorated markedly under the impact of the automatic stabilisers. In some Member States, this was also due to discretionary loosening of budget policies. Some Member States facing still high structural deficits failed to make any further progress towards achieving budgetary positions of close to balance or in surplus and some even moved into reverse. The Commission then took action under the Stability and Growth Pact and the Treaty. The long-term sustainability of public finances was far from guaranteed in most Member States, and in particular Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria and Portugal need to make further progress.

Labour markets. Despite weak economic growth, labour markets performed rather well in 2002, this being reflected in continuous employment growth. The unemployment rate in the EU increased only slightly, by 0.2%, to 7.6% of the labour force. However, labour-market reforms made only slow progress. While most Member States adapted their tax and benefit systems to make work pay, the measures taken were generally piecemeal.

Product markets. Progress in completing the internal market was disappointing since only five Member States met the target of reducing the deficit in the transposal of internal market legislation to 1.5% or less. In addition, the number of infringement proceedings remained excessively high. However, progress was made in reinforcing the regulatory and competition authorities, while state aid continued to decline in most Member States. The liberalisation of telecommunications and energy markets was beginning to produce gains for consumers. Generally, however, competition remained inadequate in the network industries.

Capital markets. The process of financial integration progressed markedly and the objectives set by the Barcelona Council were largely achieved. Cross-border coordination of financial supervision could be further improved.

Entrepreneurship. The regulatory environment improved in all Member States. Some of them took measures to alleviate administrative burdens on firms, to reduce the time and cost required for setting up a new company, to stimulate competition and to increase the efficiency of the public sector and general government. Implementation of the European Charter for Small Enterprises was progressing in all Member States.

Knowledge-based economy. The European Union was slowly catching up on the United States in ICT usage but large gaps remained in terms of business R&D and patenting. Use of the Internet continued to grow.

Sustainable development. Various measures were taken including an increase in energy taxes, while other steps were taken to protect the environment. Progress was made in the negotiations on establishing a Community emissions trading scheme.

ASSESSMENT BY MEMBER STATE

Belgium. Belgium maintained its balanced budgetary position. Some progress was also made on the labour market (apart from the promotion of geographical mobility) and product markets in fostering entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy.

Denmark. Denmark was among the Member States considered to have given the best follow-up to the 2002 broad economic policy guidelines. Progress was made, notably as regards public finances and product markets, in promoting entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy.

Germany. Germany made limited progress in implementing the recommendations, notably as regards public finance (the 3% government deficit threshold laid down in the Treaty was overstepped). Limited progress was also made in implementing the labour-market recommendations. By contrast, some progress was made as regards product markets and in promoting entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy.

Greece. Greece made progress in the field of public finance, including a modest reform of the pension system, and on the labour market. As regards product markets, some progress was also made in promoting entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy.

Spain. Progress was made on the public finance front: the Spanish budget was still in balance. Some progress was made on labour product markets, and promoting entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy, e.g. with a view to supporting the adoption of new technologies in enterprises.

France. Limited progress was made in following up the public finance recommendations. However, some progress was discernible in implementing the labour-market recommendations. Measures were taken to reduce the administrative burden on business and to facilitate the use of the Internet.

Ireland. Some progress was made on public finances, even though the fiscal stance was more expansionary than expected. On the labour market, some measures were taken to increase the participation of women. The recommendations on product markets, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy had positive effects, including keener competition in the network industries.

Italy. Progress in following up the labour-market recommendations was limited, whereas some progress was made in respect of the labour market. Measures were taken in other fields to alleviate the administrative burden, to enhance competition and to encourage the use of new technologies.

Luxembourg. Some progress was made in following up the public-finance and labour-market recommendations. There was no decisive progress as regards product markets, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy, but measures were taken to alleviate the administrative burden on enterprises.

Netherlands. Some progress was made as regards public finances and the labour market, notably as a result of measures to make work pay. Steps were also taken to improve competition in the services sector and to promote the use of IT.

Austria. Progress with public finances was limited, and a balanced budget was not achieved in 2002. Progress was also limited on the labour market. By contrast, some progress was made on product markets, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy, while additional financial resources were allocated to research, and the administrative burden was reduced.

Portugal. Some progress was made in following up the public-finance recommendations, and the public deficit fell sharply in 2002. On the labour market, some progress was discernible in implementing the national Lifelong Learning strategy. Portugal also made progress on education, R&D, the use of new technologies and competition in the network industries.

Finland. Some progress was made on public finances. However, central government expenditure exceeded the original target. Progress was also made with the labour-market recommendations, including a reduction in taxation for low- and medium-wage earners. Not much progress was made on product markets, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy.

Sweden. Good progress was discernible in implementing the public-finance recommendations. As regards the labour market, measures were taken that reflected the recommendations. Some progress was made in the other fields, notably thanks to measures to enhance competition.

United Kingdom. Some progress has been made in implementing the public-finance recommendations and investment rose in line with the recommendations. Measures on the labour market improved employability. As regards product markets, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy, progress was satisfactory, notably in the competition field.

 


Another Normative about Broad economic policy guidelines

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

Broad economic policy guidelines (2005- 2008)

The European Union must focus its policies on economic growth and employment. The current broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) reflect the new start for the Lisbon strategy. They focus on macroeconomic policies * and on the measures and policies that the Member States should adopt to make Europe a more attractive place in which to invest and work (macroeconomic policies) *.

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 2005/601/EC of 12 July 2005 on the broad economic policy guidelines of the Member States and the Community (2005-2008) [Official Journal L 205, 6.8.2005].

Summary

The recommendation falls within the general framework of the Lisbon strategy: the European Union must mobilise all the resources available in order to achieve the objectives of this strategy, which is designed to make the EU economy the most competitive in the world by 2010. The recommendation is in two parts. The first one addresses the way in which macroeconomic policies can contribute to relaunching the Lisbon strategy while the second deals with the measures and policies that the Member States should adopt in order to boost knowledge and innovation for growth (macroeconomic policies *). The BEPGs apply to all the Member States and will be complemented by the Lisbon Community Programme 2005 to 2008.

The state of the EU economy

First of all, the recommendation takes stock of the current state of the EU economy, which, after gathering momentum from mid-2003 onwards, decelerated in the second half of 2004 as a result of external factors such as high, volatile oil prices and the slowdown in world trade expansion. The Council considers that the lack of resilience in some European economies is attributable partly to structural weaknesses. GDP is expected to continue to grow at a moderate pace in 2005.

As the world growth cycle reaches maturity, offsetting the dampening effect of high world oil prices, the emphasis will fall increasingly on domestic demand in the EU to provide greater impetus to the upswing.

Structural and macroeconomic policies need to be thought of against the background of an increase in the prices of raw materials, in particular oil, and a downward pressure on industrial prices. Potential growth rates in the EU therefore depend to a large extent on increasing confidence among businesses and consumers, as well as on favourable global economic developments, including oil prices and exchange rates.

The sluggishness of the EU’s economic recovery is a continuing source of concern, even if the forecasts are for a fall in the unemployment rate.

Macroeconomic policies for growth and jobs

The Council wishes to see macroeconomic policies that will create the conditions for more growth and jobs and will secure economic stability. Monetary policies can contribute to this by pursuing price stability.

The recommendation lists the following six economy policy guidelines to be implemented by the Member States:

  • to secure economic stability for sustainable growth. In line with the stability and growth pact, Member States should respect their medium-term budgetary objectives. They should avoid pro-cyclical fiscal policies, i.e. they should not spend more at times of excessive deficit if the converse proves to be necessary, i.e. reducing public spending. Member States with excessive deficits should adopt effective measures in order to correct them promptly, and if necessary introduce structural reforms;
  • to safeguard economic and fiscal sustainability. In view of the projected costs of ageing populations, the Member States should reduce their public debt in order to strengthen public finances and reinforce their pension, social security and health care systems so as to ensure that they are financially viable, socially adequate and accessible. They should also take measures to increase labour market participation among women, young people and older workers;
  • to promote a growth- and employment-orientated and efficient allocation of resources. Member States should redirect public expenditure towards growth-enhancing categories. They should also adapt their tax structures in order to strengthen growth potential. Mechanisms should be put in place in order to assess the relationship between public spending and the achievement of policy objectives aimed at ensuring the coherence of the reforms;
  • to ensure that wage developments contribute to economic stability. Member States should put in place the right framework conditions for wage-bargaining systems, while respecting the role of the social partners. This should promote nominal wages and labour cost developments consistent with price stability and the trend in productivity over the medium term;
  • to promote greater coherence between macroeconomic, structural and employment policies. Member States should pursue labour and product market reforms that increase growth potential. They should reinforce the macroeconomic framework by increasing flexibility, factor mobility and adjustment capacity in labour and product markets in response to globalisation, technological advances, demand shift and cyclical changes. In addition, tax and benefit systems should be reformed in order to improve incentives and to make work pay. The ability of labour markets to adapt to economic requirements needs to be increased, while at the same time ensuring employment flexibility and security and investing in human capital;
  • to contribute to a dynamic and well-functioning EMU. Member States in the euro area need to ensure better coordination of their economic and budgetary policies, in particular:

– pay particular attention to the fiscal sustainability of their public finances;
– contribute to a policy mix that supports long-term economic recovery and ensures price stability, thereby enhancing consumer and investor confidence;
– press forward with structural reforms;
– ensure that the euro area’s influence in the global economic system is commensurate with its economic weight.

Microeconomic reforms to raise Europe’s growth potential

The Council considers that, in order to enhance the EU’s growth potential, it is necessary to create jobs and increase productivity. An essential growth factor is investment in R&D, innovation and education. Their international dimension should be strengthened in terms of joint financing and reducing barriers to researcher and student mobility. The Council sets out ten guidelines for microeconomic reforms aimed at increasing growth potential. These are:

  • to increase and improve investment in R&D. Businesses will need to play a key role in increasing and improving investment in this area. The Council confirms an overall objective for investment of 3 % of GDP by 2010. This level of investment must be achieved by an adequate split between private and public investment. Member States must further develop measures to foster R&D, in particular by:

– improving framework conditions to ensure that companies operate in a sufficiently competitive and attractive environment;
– allocating more effective and efficient public expenditure to this area;
– developing public-private partnerships;
– developing and strengthening centres of excellence of educational and research institutions;
– improving the transfer of technologies between research institutes;
– developing and making better use of incentives to leverage private R&D;
– modernising the management of research institutes and universities;
– ensuring a sufficient supply of qualified researchers;

  • to facilitate all forms of innovation. Member States should focus on improvements in innovation support services, in particular for the dissemination and transfer of technology, the creation of innovation poles bringing together research institutes, universities, etc. They should also take measures to encourage cross-border knowledge transfer and public procurement of innovative products and services. Access to domestic and international finance should be improved. Effective and affordable means of enforcing intellectual property rights should be put in place;
  • to facilitate the spread and effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and build a fully inclusive information society. Member States should encourage the widespread use of ICT in public services, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and households. They should provide the necessary framework for the related changes in the organisation of work in the economy and promote a European presence in the ICT sector. They must ensure the stability and security of networks and information;
  • to strengthen the competitive edge of Europe’s industrial base. Europe needs to pursue a modern and active industrial policy, which entails bolstering the competitive advantages of its industrial base. This means establishing attractive framework conditions for manufacturing, enhancing competitiveness factors in response to the challenges of globalisation, developing new technologies and creating new markets by promoting new technological initiatives based on public-private partnerships and creating business clusters within the EU;
  • to encourage the sustainable use of resources and step up environmental protection. Member States should give priority to energy efficiency and the development of sustainable energies, in particular renewable energies, and promote the rapid spread of environmentally friendly technologies both in Europe and worldwide. Member States should pay particular attention to SMEs by withdrawing subsidies with a negative effect on the environment and sustainable development. Environmental protection should be pursued in areas such as halting the loss of biological diversity between now and 2010, combating climate change and implementing Kyoto targets (EN), etc.;
  • to extend and deepen the internal market. Member States should speed up the transposition of internal market directives, give priority to stricter and better enforcement of internal market legislation, apply Community rules effectively, promote an internal market in services, speed up the integration of financial markets, etc.;
  • to ensure open and competitive markets in response to globalisation. In order to reap the benefits of globalisation, Member States should give priority to removing the regulatory and trade barriers that hinder competition. Competition policy must be enforced more effectively and state aid reduced. Open and competitive markets also require the kind of investment in R&D described above. Member States should promote external openness, particularly in a multilateral context;
  • to create a more competitive business environment. The Council recommends that Member States increase competition between businesses and encourage private initiative through better regulation. It calls on Member States to reduce the administrative burden on enterprises, particularly SMEs and start-ups, to improve the quality of regulations and to encourage businesses to develop their corporate social responsibility;
  • to promote entrepreneurship and create a supportive environment for SMEs. Member States should improve access to finance in order to favour the creation and growth of SMEs. A favourable environment is also created by simplifying tax systems and reducing non-wage labour costs. In addition, the innovative potential of SMEs should be strengthened, e.g. by providing relevant support services. National legislation on bankruptcy, transfer of ownership, etc. should be revised in order to remove any remaining barriers;
  • to improve European infrastructure. Efficient, modern infrastructures are important in facilitating the mobility of persons, goods and services within the EU. The presence of infrastructure is often a decisive factor for businesses seeking new locations. Member States should put in place conditions conducive to the development of such infrastructure and consider the possibility of developing public-private partnerships. Lastly, they should examine the question of appropriate infrastructure pricing systems.
Key terms used in the act
Macroeconomic policies: this term covers policies aimed at influencing economic aggregates such as prices, unemployment, growth potential, GDP, etc.
Microeconomic policies: this term refers to policies designed to influence economic decisions taken, for example, by natural or legal persons.

Related Acts

Council Recommendation 2007/209/EC of 27 March 2007 on the 2007 update of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies [Official Journal L 92 of 3.4.2007].
The Council calls upon Member States to take action along the lines set out in the recommendation with a view to updating the broad economic policy guidelines for 2007. The guidelines set out in the Annex to the Recommendation contain specific recommendations for each Member State.

Member States must report on the follow up in their next annual progress reports on the implementation of their national reform programmes in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy.

Cooperation between special intervention units

Cooperation between special intervention units

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Cooperation between special intervention units

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

Cooperation between special intervention units

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/617/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the improvement of cooperation between the special intervention units of the Member States of the European Union in crisis situations.

Summary

This Decision sets out the general rules and conditions for the cooperation of Member States’ special intervention units* in situations of crisis*. Cooperation is based on the provision of assistance and/or on the carrying out of operations on the territory of the requesting Member State. The details for implementing the practical aspects of the cooperation are settled between the requesting and the requested Member States directly.

The competent authority* of a Member State processes the request for assistance from another Member State’s special intervention unit. The request must specify the nature of and the operational necessity for the assistance. The requested Member State’s competent authority may either accept or refuse the request, or propose assistance in another form.

The assistance provided may consist of:

  • equipment;
  • expertise;
  • carrying out operations on the requesting Member State’s territory.

When carrying out operations, the requested Member State’s special intervention unit has a supporting role. It is to provide the assistance under the responsibility, authority and direction of the requesting Member State. While the operations fall under the jurisdiction of the requesting Member State, the requested Member State’s officers may act only within the limits of their powers as defined by their national law.

The Member States taking part in this form of cooperation must ensure that experience, expertise and information on managing crisis situations are exchanged. To this end, the special intervention units are to hold meetings and joint trainings and exercises. These may be funded from certain Community financial programmes. Hence, the responsibility for the organisation of these events lies with the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. All operational costs however, including those of the requested Member State’s special intervention unit, are to be borne by the requesting Member State, unless the cooperating Member States decide otherwise.

An up-to-date list of the Member States’ competent authorities is maintained by the General Secretariat of the Council.

Background

The Council Declaration on Solidarity against Terrorism of 25 March 2004 established the basis for cooperation between Member States in the event of terrorist attacks.

Council Decision 2008/617/JHA complements Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, whose article 18 lays down the obligation for Member States to provide one another assistance in connection with mass gatherings, disasters and serious accidents.

Key terms used in the act

  • Special intervention unit: any law enforcement unit of a Member State that is specialised in the control of a crisis situation.
  • Crisis situation: any situation in which the competent authorities of a Member State have reasonable grounds to believe that there is a criminal offence presenting a serious direct physical threat to persons, property, infrastructure or institutions of that Member State.
  • Competent authority: the national authority that may make requests and give authorisations regarding the deployment of the special intervention units.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2008/617/JHA

23.12.2008

OJ L 210 of 6.8.2008

Lawyers: freedom of establishment

Lawyers: freedom of establishment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Lawyers: freedom of establishment

Topics

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

Education training youth sport > Vocational training

Lawyers: freedom of establishment

Document or Iniciative

Directive 98/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 to facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The directive applies to lawyers in private or salaried practice in the home or a host Member State.

Lawyers may pursue their profession on a permanent basis in another Member State under the professional title acquired in the home Member State. Those wishing to do so are required to register with the competent authorities of the host Member State.

Apart from specified exceptions, a lawyer practising under his/her home-country professional title must carry on the same professional activities as the host-country lawyers. S/he may give advice on the law of his home and host Member State, as well as on Community and international law.

After the effective and regular pursuit of activity for an unbroken period of three years in the host Member State, the lawyer is deemed to have acquired the skills necessary to completely integrate into the profession of lawyer in that Member State. However, if such activity does not include the law of the host Member State or Community law, lawyers may be required to take an aptitude test limited to the law of procedure and the rules of professional conduct of the host Member State.

One or more lawyers who belong to the same grouping in their home Member State and practise under their home-country professional title in a host Member State may pursue their activities in a branch or agency of their grouping, provided that the host Member State allows joint practices.

Lawyers practising under their home-country professional title are subject to the rules of professional conduct and the disciplinary procedures of the host Member State.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 98/5/EC

14.3.1998

14.3.2000

JO L 77 of 14.3.1998

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Act concerning the conditions of accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the European Union is founded

1.5.2004

JO L 236 of 23.9.2003

Directive 2006/100/EC

1.1.2007

1.1.2007

JO L 363 of 20.12.2006

Exchange of information from criminal records

Exchange of information from criminal records

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exchange of information from criminal records

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Exchange of information from criminal records

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA of 26 February 2009 on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record between Member States.

Summary

The objectives of this framework decision are to:

  • define how a convicting Member State is to transmit information on the conviction to the Member State of which the convicted person is a national;
  • define the obligations of the Member State of which the person is a national to store information on convictions and the procedures which that Member State is to follow when replying to requests for information about its nationals;
  • establish a framework for the development of a computerised system of exchange of information on convictions.

Member States are to designate a central authority to carry out the tasks relating to exchanges of information on convictions. For transmitting information and for replying to a request for information, Member States may designate more than one central authority.

Obligations of Member States

Along with information on the conviction, the convicting Member State has the obligation to provide information on the nationality(ies) of the person convicted on its territory in its criminal record.

The central authority of the convicting Member State is obliged to inform the central authorities of the Member State(s) of which the convicted person is national of any convictions of that person provided in its criminal record as soon as possible, including any subsequent alterations or deletions of this information. Such notification must include information on the convicted person, the nature and contents of the conviction, as well as the offence that gave rise to the conviction. The central authority is also to transmit optional information if entered in the criminal record and additional information if available, as listed in the framework decision.

The Member State of which the convicted person is a national has an obligation to store information transmitted to it, as well as to reply to requests for information on convictions within the given period of time. The convicting Member State may stipulate that the information it transmits to the Member State of the convicted person’s nationality may not be retransmitted by the latter for any other purpose than for criminal proceedings.

Requesting information and replying to requests

When information from the criminal record of a Member State is requested, its central authority may in return request information from the criminal record of the central authority of another Member State. The same applies when a person requests information from his/her criminal record from a Member State, provided that s/he is a resident/national of one of the Member States concerned. All requests to central authorities must be made with the form annexed to the framework decision.

When the central authority of the Member State of which the person is a national is asked for information, it is to transmit information on convictions that were handed down on its territory, in other Member States or in third countries and that were either stored by it or entered in its criminal record. All replies to requests for information must be made with the form annexed to the framework decision and within 10 working days from receiving the request. In case the request was made by a person for information from his/her record, the reply must be sent within 20 working days from its receipt.

The requesting Member State may use personal data transmitted to it only for the purposes the data was requested for, unless it is used to prevent an immediate and serious threat to public security.

The Council should adopt further instruments setting up the format of exchanges of information extracted from criminal records and any other means for organising and facilitating such exchanges between Member States by 27 April 2012.

This framework decision repeals Decision 2005/876/JHA on the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA

27.4.2009

27.4.2012

OJ L 93 of 7.4.2009

Related Acts

Council Decision of 6 April 2009 on the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) in application of Article 11 of Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA [Official Journal L 93 of 7.4.2009].
This decision implements Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA in establishing the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS). The system will enable an electronic interconnection of criminal records, where information on convictions is exchanged between Member States in a uniform and easily computer-transferable manner.
The objectives of this decision are to:

  • set up the general architecture for the electronic exchange of information extracted from criminal records. ECRIS is a decentralised information technology system based on the criminal record databases in Member States. It consists of an interconnection software that allows exchanges of information between the national databases and of a common communication infrastructure, which will initially be the Trans-European Services for Telematics between Administrations (S-TESTA) network;
  • create a standardised European format of transmission of information on convictions. In this respect it provides for two reference tables of categories of offences and categories of sanctions, which should facilitate the automatic translation and enable the mutual understanding of the information transmitted by using a system of codes. Member States are to refer to these tables when transmitting information on the offence giving rise to the conviction and information on the content of the conviction.

Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters

Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (“Brussels I”)

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The regulation lays down rules governing the jurisdiction of courts in civil and commercial matters. A judgment given in an European Union (EU) country is to be recognised without special proceedings, unless the recognition is contested. A declaration that a foreign judgment is enforceable is to be issued following purely formal checks of the documents supplied. The regulation lists grounds for non-enforcement; however, courts are not to raise these of their own motion. The regulation does not cover revenue, customs or administrative matters. Neither does it apply to:

  • the status or legal capacity of natural persons, matrimonial matters, wills and succession;
  • bankruptcy;
  • social security;
  • arbitration.

Rules of jurisdiction

The basic principle is that jurisdiction is to be exercised by the EU country in which the defendant is domiciled, regardless of his/her nationality. Domicile is determined in accordance with the domestic law of the EU country where the matter is brought before a court. If a party is not domiciled in the EU country of the court considering the matter, the court is to apply the law of another EU country to determine whether the party is domiciled in said state. In the case of legal persons or firms, domicile is determined by the country where they have their statutory seat, central administration or principal place of business. In the case of trusts, domicile is defined by the court that is considering the case by applying its own rules of private international law *.

Suing the defendant in another EU country

Apart from the basic principle on jurisdiction, in certain circumstances a defendant may be sued in the courts of another EU country. The regulation lists areas of jurisdiction where this is so: special or exclusive jurisdiction, as well as jurisdiction on matters relating to insurance, consumer contracts and individual contracts of employment.

The courts’ special jurisdiction includes the following:

  • matters relating to a contract: as a general rule, these will be dealt with by the courts for the place of performance of the obligation in question;
  • matters relating to maintenance: as a general rule, these are to be brought before the courts for the place where the maintenance creditor is resident;
  • matters relating to liability for wrongful acts – tort, delict or quasi-delict: these will be decided by the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur.

In matters relating to insurance, an insurer may be sued in the courts of the EU country where s/he is domiciled or of the EU country where the plaintiff is domiciled if the actions are brought by the policy holder, the insured or a beneficiary. In respect of liability insurance or insurance of immovable property, the insurer may, in addition, be sued in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred.

The regulation also lays down rules on jurisdiction in matters relating to contracts concluded by consumers. “Consumers” are defined as persons who conclude a contract with a professional for a purpose outside of their own trade or profession. All contracts concluded with a person who pursues commercial or professional activities in the EU are covered, with the exception of contracts of transport, other than those providing for a combination of travel and accommodation for an inclusive price. The consumer is protected in the way described here if the contract concluded on the sale of goods is financed on instalment credit terms or through a loan repayable by instalments or any other form of credit. In order for the consumer to enjoy this protection in other cases, the contract must have been concluded with a person who pursues commercial or professional activities in the EU country in which the consumer is domiciled or directs such activities to that country. A consumer may bring proceedings either in the courts of the EU country in which the defendant is domiciled or in the courts for the place where the consumer (the plaintiff) is domiciled. Proceedings may be brought against a consumer by the other party to the contract only in the courts of the EU country in which the consumer is domiciled.

In matters relating to individual contracts of employment, employees may either sue their employer in the courts of the EU country where the employer is domiciled or in the courts of the EU country where the employee habitually works. An employee who does not habitually work in any one country may sue the employer in the courts for the place where the business that engaged the employee has its seat. An employer who is not domiciled in any EU country, but has a branch, agency or other establishment in one of the EU countries, is deemed to be domiciled in that country. An employer may bring proceedings against an employee only in the courts for the place where the employee is domiciled.

Regardless of domicile, the following courts have exclusive jurisdiction in proceedings concerning:

  • rights in rem in immovable property or tenancies of immovable property: the courts of the EU country in which the property is situated;
  • the validity of the constitution, the nullity or the dissolution of companies or other legal persons or of the validity of the decisions of their organs: the courts of the EU country in which the legal person has its seat;
  • the validity of entries in public registers: the courts of the EU country in which the register is kept;
  • the registration or validity of patents, trade marks, designs or other similar rights: the courts of the EU country in which the deposit or registration has been applied for, has taken place or is under the terms of an Union instrument or an international convention deemed to have taken place;
  • the enforcement of judgments: the courts of the EU country in which the judgment has been or is to be enforced.

If the parties, one or more of whom is domiciled in the EU, have concluded a choice of jurisdiction * clause, the agreed court will have jurisdiction. The regulation lays down a number of formalities that must be observed in such choice of jurisdiction agreements: the agreement must be in writing or in a form that respects practices the parties have established between themselves or, in international trade or commerce, in a form that accords with a usage of which the parties are aware.

Similarly, there are provisions for rules regarding co-defendants, actions on a warranty, guarantee or other third-party proceedings, counterclaims and matters relating to a contract if the action may be combined with an action relating to rights in immovable property.

The regulation also provides a mechanism to handle cases pending elsewhere (lis pendens) and related actions.

Recognition and enforcement

A judgment given in an EU country is to be recognised in the other EU countries without any special procedure being required. “Judgment” means any judgment given by a court or tribunal of an EU country, whatever the judgment may be called, including a decree, order, decision or writ of execution. Under no circumstances may a foreign judgment be reviewed as to its substance.

A judgment will not be recognised if:

  • such recognition is manifestly contrary to public policy in the EU country in which recognition is sought;
  • the defendant was not served with the document that instituted the proceedings in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable the defendant to arrange for his/her defence;
  • it is irreconcilable with a judgment given in a dispute between the same parties in the EU country in which recognition is sought;
  • it is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in another EU or non-EU country involving the same cause of action and the same parties.

A court in which recognition is sought of a judgment given in another EU country may stay the proceedings, if an ordinary appeal against the judgment has been lodged.

A judgment is to be enforced in another EU country when, on the application of any interested party, it has been declared enforceable there. The parties may appeal against a decision on an application for a declaration of enforceability.

Superseding the Brussels Convention of 1968

The regulation supersedes the Brussels Convention of 1968, which was applicable between the EU countries before the regulation entered into force. The convention continues to apply with respect to those territories of EU countries that fall within its territorial scope and that are excluded from the regulation pursuant to Article 299 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Article 355 of the Treaty on the Funtioning of the European Union). The regulation also lists a number of other conventions, treaties and agreements between EU countries that it supersedes.

Even after the regulation entered into force, questions of jurisdiction between Denmark and the other EU countries continued to be governed by the Brussels Convention of 1968. This Danish opt-out was based on the 1997 Protocol No 5 on the position of Denmark annexed to the Treaties (now Protocol No 22). On 19 October 2005, the EU concluded an agreement with Denmark on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters that extended the provisions of the regulation to that country. On 27 April 2006, the agreement was approved on behalf of the EU by Council Decision 2006/325/EC. It entered into force on 1 July 2007.

As provided for in the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland annexed to the Treaties, these two countries have indicated their wish to take part in the adoption and application of the regulation.

Key terms used in the act
  • “Private international law” governs the international element in matters of private law, i.e. family law, law of contract, etc. It is the branch of the domestic law of states that indicates which law, domestic or foreign, is to be applied in a particular case.
  • “Choice of jurisdiction” is a general principle of private international law under which the parties to a contract are free to designate a court to rule on any dispute even though that court might not have jurisdiction on the basis of the factors objectively connecting the contract with a particular place.

References

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

Regulation (EC) No 44/2001

1.3.2002

OJ L 12, 16.1.2001

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

Regulation (EC) No 1791/2006

1.1.2007

OJ L 363, 20.12.2006

Regulation (EC) No 1103/2008

4.12.2008

OJ L 304, 14.11.2008

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purposes only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 April 2009 on the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters [COM(2009) 174 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility [Official Journal L 338 of 23.12.2003].
This regulation applies in civil matters relating to divorce, legal separation and the annulment of marriage, as well as to all aspects of parental responsibility. It does not apply in civil matters relating to maintenance obligations, which are covered by Regulation (EC) No 4/2009.

European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters

European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2001/470/EC of 28 May 2001 establishing a European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The gradual establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice, as well as the sound operation of the internal market, entails the need to improve, simplify and expedite effective judicial cooperation between Member States in civil and commercial matters.

This decision is intended to implement that objective, the importance of which was recognised in the December 1998 action plan of the Council and the Commission as well as by the European Council held at Tampere in October 1999, by the establishment of a European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters.

The European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters comprises:

  • central contact points designated by Member States and, if appropriate, a limited number of additional contact points;
  • liaison magistrates and other authorities (having responsibility in the field of judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters), whose membership of the Network is considered useful by Member States;
  • professional associations that represent legal practitioners participating in the application of Community and international civil justice instruments.

In this decision, the term “Member State” means all Member States other than Denmark.

Informing Member States and their citizens about civil and commercial matters

The Network has two specific tasks:

  • to facilitate judicial cooperation between Member States in civil and commercial matters by setting up an information system for members of the Network;
  • to facilitate access to justice by providing information on Community and international judicial cooperation instruments.

The Network also helps to:

  • smooth procedures that have cross-border implications;
  • facilitate requests for cooperation between Member States, especially when no Community act or international instrument is applicable;
  • apply Community acts or conventions in force between Member States.

Meeting network requirements: contact points

The contact points play a key role in the Network, they provide general information on Community and international instruments as well as information needed for cooperation and for applying the law of the Member State that is applicable, facilitate the processing of requests for judicial cooperation, seek solutions to any difficulties that arise, and coordinate cooperation between national members.

The contact points respond to requests for judicial cooperation within a set time limit (within 15 days of receipt, unless extended) by using the technological facilities provided by Member States. The Commission keeps a register of the requests and replies of contact points.

The contact points meet at least once every six months to exchange information and experiences, to identify problems and best practices, and to determine parameters for the information system.

Regardless of Denmark not being subject to the application of this decision, it may be represented at Network meetings. In addition, accession and candidate countries as well as certain third countries may send a maximum of three representatives each to participate as observers at these meetings.

Outside the meetings, the contact points can exchange information via a secure limited-access system set up by the Commission.

The Network is to liaise with similar networks and international organisations, such as the European Judicial Network in criminal matters, the European Judicial Training Network, the European Consumers Centres Network (ECC-Net), as well as judicial cooperation networks set up between third countries and with international organisations.

Providing information to the public

An internet-based information system gives access to information concerning judicial measures in force, case law, Member States legal and judicial systems, and cooperation in civil and commercial matters. The system also contains practical information sheets for the public.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2001/470/EC

1.12.2002

OJ L 174 of 27.6.2001

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

Decision No 568/2009/EC

11.1.2011

OJ L 168 of 30.6.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Council Decision 2001/470/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purpose only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 May 2006 on the application of Council Decision 2001/470/EC establishing a European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters [COM(2006) 203 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This report was drawn up by the Commission in accordance with Article 19 of the decision referred to above. It summarises the current characteristics and workings of the Network. The Commission believes that the Network has generally satisfied expectations, but recognises that it still has tremendous potential for development. The Network must be given the resources it needs if it is to fulfil that potential. The Commission would accordingly like:

  • all the main contact points in Member States to be able to devote their time entirely to the network, and Member States to grant them the necessary prerogatives and resources;
  • greater efforts to be made to complete the development of the Network’s website in terms of content and languages;
  • work to continue on practical guides, information initiatives and other activities regarding the discussion of concrete examples;
  • contact points gradually to become accessible to the public by using on-line communication techniques.

Internet governance: the next steps

Internet governance: the next steps

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Internet governance: the next steps

Topics

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

Information society > Internet Online activities and ICT standards

Internet governance: the next steps

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 18 June 2009 – Internet governance: the next steps [COM(2009) 277 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication gives details of existing Internet governance systems and future action in this field.

Internet: architecture and operation

Internet stems from the world of academia and research. Originally, governance was established on a closed model, carried out by engineers and scientists.

Over time, the architecture has gradually opened up, to the benefit of new stakeholders and individual users.

The Internet is now based on an open architecture which is neutral and distributed. This structure constitutes an advantage in terms of security since any localised failure is less likely to interfere with traffic elsewhere.

The private sector has been in the forefront since the Internet began. It provides the investment, expertise and entrepreneurial initiative which foster innovation. The private sector operates most of the international backbone infrastructure, the national cable networks, and provides services that facilitate and manage traffic.

The IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), a private body, has developed certain technical rules for the functioning of the Internet. RIPE NCC, another private entity, is responsible for assigning IP addresses at regional level.

The role of governments

Given the increasing role of the Internet in society, it is important that governments play a more active role in its development process.

The financial crisis of October 2008 has also changed public attitudes towards the concept of self-regulation. The public now aspires to more involvement on the part of public authorities in promoting the public interest.

However, the private sector must continue to play its role with regard to the daily management and development of the Internet.

The role of the European Union (EU)

The EU has been at the forefront of the discussions on Internet governance, particularly at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) between 2003 and 2005.

The EU was also a leading actor in the international discussions which contributed to setting up the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The EU also highlights the importance of bridging the ‘digital divide’ and taking into account the interests of users in developing countries in Internet governance arrangements.

The EU puts forward the following key principles concerning Internet governance:

  • the core architecture should be respected;
  • the private sector should retain a leading role;
  • there should be multi-stakeholder participation;
  • governments should participate more actively;
  • inclusion should be a basic principle.

Assigning Internet names and addresses

The coordination of resources with regard to names and addresses is a key element in the functioning of the Internet. Originally, the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) was responsible for assigning Internet names and addresses.

Given the development of the Internet, the American government decided, in the late 1990s, to contract some of the services provided by IANA from ICANN. This organisation operates according to the principle of self-regulation, whilst being responsible to the international community.

The American government agreement with ICANN ended in 2006, replaced by the JPA (Joint Project Agreement (pdf ).

ICANN succeeded in maintaining the stability of the Domain Name System for ten years and encouraged a participative decision-making process. However, some criticisms were made concerning its lack of representativeness and its monopolistic tendencies.

The next steps

The Commission encourages international partners to promote intergovernmental cooperation and dialogue in order to implement public policy principles in cooperation with the EU.

ICANN is also encouraged to complete its internal reforms in order to improve its transparency. It is, moreover, necessary that multilateral accountability should apply to ICANN.

Context

Internet governance is an absolute priority in terms of public policy. The EU has a leading role to play since it includes nearly 19 % of the world’s Internet users.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

'Open Skies' agreement between Europe and the United States

‘Open Skies’ agreement between Europe and the United States

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about ‘Open Skies’ agreement between Europe and the United States

Topics

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

Transport > International dimension and enlargement

‘Open Skies’ agreement between Europe and the United States

Document or Iniciative

Decision 2007/339/EC of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union meeting within the Council, of 25 April 2007, on the signature and provisional application of the Air Transport Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, on the one hand, and the United States of America, on the other hand.

Summary

With the new agreement, airlines in the Union can:

  • operate flights to the United States from any European airport, regardless of their nationality (the United States recognise them as European);
  • operate without restrictions on the number of flights, aircraft or routes;
  • set prices in line with the market;
  • conclude cooperation agreements.

Companies in certain Non-EU Member Countries (countries in Europe that don’t belong to the EU, plus 18 African countries) may also receive Community investment without this affecting their traffic rights to the United States. Similarly, the United States will not call into question the flights of Community airlines if non-EU European countries have invested in their capital.

The agreement also strengthens cooperation between the two parties on safety, security, competition policy, State Aid, consumer protection and the environment.

On the subject of airline ownership, Europeans will be able to hold more than a 50 % share in American carriers, but not to gain overall control: under American law, a foreigner may not hold 25 % voting shares in an American company and may not control it. The EU side therefore reserved a right to restrict American investment in European companies to the same level.

Towards new negotiations

The negotiations also led to the establishing of a mechanism for opening up transatlantic air travel even further by doing away with the restrictions still in place, particularly as regards ownership of American airlines. The agreement thus calls for negotiations to be resumed in the two months following its entry into force. Moreover, the EU reserves the right to suspend certain parties from the agreement if the dialogue prevents further progress in the next three years. The aim of the Council of Ministers is therefore to achieve the complete liberalisation of air transport.

Background

Air transport to the United States was until now governed by bilateral agreements between Member States and the American authorities. Sixteen Member States already had ‘open skies’ agreements in place. Yet this fragmented approach proved to be an obstacle as it prevented completion of a genuine single market.

On 5 November 2002, the Court of Justice made a number of judgments in cases referred to it by the Commission (C-466-469/98, C-467/98, C468/98, C-469/98, C-472/98, C-475/98 and C-476/98) which put an end to these agreements and contributed to this being recognised as a matter to be handled at Community level.

As a result, the Commission received a mandate to negotiate an air agreement with the United States that applied for the Community as a whole. After four years of discussions, the negotiators came to an agreement on 2 March 2007. At the request of the United Kingdom, entry into force was put back to 30 March 2008.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2007/339/EC 30.3.2008 L 134 of 25.5.2007

Access of vehicle registration services to SIS II

Access of vehicle registration services to SIS II

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Access of vehicle registration services to SIS II

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Access of vehicle registration services to SIS II

As the regulation and decision concerning the establishment, operation and use of SIS II do not provide Member State vehicle registration services access to this system, an additional regulation has been adopted to this end.

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 1986/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 regarding access to the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) by the services in the Member States responsible for issuing vehicle registration certificates.

Summary

Member States’ public services responsible for issuing registration certificates for vehicles referred to in Directive 1999/37/EC will have access to the following data in SIS II:

  • data concerning motor vehicles with a cylinder capacity exceeding 50 cc;
  • data concerning trailers with an unladen weight exceeding 750 kg and caravans;
  • data concerning vehicle registration certificates and vehicle number plates that have been stolen, misappropriated, lost or invalidated.

They will have access to this data solely for the purpose of checking that the vehicles presented to them for registration have not been stolen, misappropriated or lost and are not being sought as evidence in criminal proceedings.

Registration services that are not public services will only have access to the data in SIS II through one of the authorities referred to in Article 40 of the SIS II Decision. These authorities alone will have the right to access the data directly and transmit it to the service concerned.

The communication to the police or judicial authorities of any information contained in SIS II that raises suspicion of a criminal offence will be governed by national law.

Background

By virtue of Council Directive 1999/37/EC of 29 April 1999 on the registration documents for vehicles, Member States are to assist one another and exchange information. In particular, before registering a vehicle, they should check the legal status of that vehicle in the Member State in which it was previously registered.

Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 and Decision 2007/533/JHA concerning the establishment, operation and use of SIS II (SIS II Regulation and Decision) replaced all but one article of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985. That article concerns access to the Schengen Information System by the authorities and services in the Member States responsible for issuing registration certificates for vehicles. This third act completes the SIS II legal framework, ensuring that Member States’ vehicle registration services will have access to SIS II once it is operational.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1986/2006

17.1.2006

OJ L 381 of 28.12.2006