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  • Author: Andrea Renda
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: A lively debate emerged on the proposed "Connected Continent" legislative package presented by the European Commission in September 2013. The package contains a proposed rule on the 'open Internet', which was heavily discussed in European Parliament hearings in early December. This commentary argues that while the proposed rule is in principle balanced and appealing, it is utterly impractical due to the enormous uncertainty that its application would entail. At the same time, the rule is very far from what neutrality proponents have argued for almost a decade: rather than the place for internet freedom, it would transform the Web into a place requiring constant micro-management and tutoring of user behavior. Both arguments lead to the conclusion that the current proposal should be at once reformed and analysed under a more holistic lens. On the one hand, Europe should launch an ambitious project for the future, converged infrastructure by mobilising resources and reforming rules to encourage investment into ubiquitous, converged, 'always on' connectivity. On the other hand, enhanced legal certainty for broadband investment could justify a more neutrality-oriented approach to traffic management practices on the Internet. The author proposes a new approach to Internet regulation which, altogether, will lead to a more balanced and sustainable model for the future, without jeopardising user freedom.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Infrastructure, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Giovanni Faleg
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Let us take three assumptions: The demand for security provision continues to increase in Europe's fragile neighbourhood (notably following the 'Arab Spring'); Austerity restrictions have hit national defence budgets heavily; The balance of power is shifting 'from the West to the rest' and the Americans are pivoting eastwards. Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that the EU is struggling to establish itself as a credible and effective security actor. The final report of High Representative Catherine Ashton, released in preparation for the December 2013 European Council on Security and Defence, admits that Europe "faces rising security challenges within a changing strategic context while the financial crisis is increasingly affecting its security and defence capability". But these are not the true causes of CSDP inertia.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Rym Ayadi, Willem Pieter De Groen
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The 2007-09 global financial crisis led to a virtual collapse in economic activity and increased financial volatility worldwide. For the developing countries, the main channel of transmission has been a drop in external transactions, such as trade, financial and capital flows, and remittances. The southern and eastern Mediterranean countries (SEMC) have also faced declining economic activity, although there seems to be considerable variation in the relative magnitudes and timing of the decline. Most of the economies in the Mediterranean basin have had delayed but longer-lasting consequences as a result of the crisis, driven mostly by their endemic trade and investment ties with the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jacques Pelkmans, Ineke Gubbels-van Hal, Lorna Schrefler
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Right from the start of the REACH debate, following the Commission proposal of October 2003, one of the more serious concerns was whether and how SMEs could cope with REACH. Indeed, there were doubts whether one of the main objectives of REACH – competitiveness of chemical and downstream companies – is consistent with the design and detailed implementation of REACH. Already in 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on this aspect, insisting e.g. on lower fees for SMEs as one remedy to reduce the expected regulatory burden for smaller companies. The fear of REACH being unduly heavy and costly for SMEs has never gone away (see e.g. Gubbels Pelkmans, 2009) but merely receded in the background when the Commission and the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) were in the process of building and elaborating the REACH machinery in operational terms. This year, the problem is rearing its head again in a magnified fashion and it will not go away so easily this time.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Matthias Busse, Christal Morehouse
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Against the background of demographic decline and growing economic competitiveness from emerging economies, this Policy Brief looks into the potential benefits of increased intra-EU labour mobility. On the basis of an examination of the 'German case' on EU labour mobility. It proposes ideas on how to better foster a European fair deal on talent, one that would benefit the EU as a whole. It concludes with a proposal on how to increase the potential benefits of the freedom of movement.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Migration, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: One of the more troublesome features of banks is that they still hold so little equity. In 2013 the capital and reserves of EU banks amounted to only 7.6% of total balance sheets. Well-run businesses outside the banking sector typically hold equity shares of 20%, 30% or more of their balances sheets. For good reasons; these well-run firms know that shocks can occur that could wipe out large parts of their balance sheets. Good business strategy thus leads these firms to hold sufficiently large buffers to avoid bankruptcy.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stefano Micossi, Jacopo Carmassi, Ginevra Bruzzone
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The European Commission proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for banks is now under consideration before the European Parliament and the Council. The main principles and tools applicable for resolving a failing bank are contained in the June 2012 Commission proposal for a Directive on bank recovery and resolution (BRR), aimed at harmonising crisis management and resolution tools in EU member states, which is also under consideration by the European legislators. Any discussion of the new system must therefore be based on both proposals.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild, Nicholas Hernanz
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The European Union, and its Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), is founded on a set of common principles of rule of law, democracy and human rights. This has been officially enshrined in the body of Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) which lists "respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities" as the shared values on which the Union is rooted. One of the current modalities of action to ensure that all member states of the EU respect Article 2 TEU is to filter their compliance with these values before they accede to the Union. The so-called 'Copenhagen criteria' have been established in 1993 to ensure that all new EU member states are in line with the Union's common principles before crossing the bridge towards membership.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, International Law, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Karel Lannoo
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: It is still an unresolved question whether a process for financial services regulatory cooperation and convergence will be included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).From a n end-user's perspective, it could be argued that its inclusion could be an opportunity not only as regards product choice, but also to improve the consumer or investor protection regulatory environment on both sides of the Atlantic. The inclusion would also be in line with the assessments made by both the EU and the US that the G-20 agenda has been incorporated in local legislation and that both regimes are thus 'equivalent'.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Matthias Busse
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) was designed to prevent the emergence of imbalances like the large and persistent current account deficits that occurred in Spain and Ireland. But within this mechanism, a current account surplus is also viewed as a source of concern. Indeed, last year's Alert Mechanism Report (AMR), issued by the European Commission signalled an excessive current account surplus for the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while Germany just barely scraped by with a 5.9% surplus, marginally evading the 6% threshold (over a 3-year average). With the most recent report, however, Germany's status has changed. Along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, it too has now been singled out as a euro-area country with a surplus above the upper threshold.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Andrea Renda
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief looks at available options for the mid-term review of Europe 2020, which is currently being addressed both by the European Commission and by several Council formations under the aegis of the Italian presidency of the EU, and will be finalised by March 2015.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Infrastructure, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The eurozone is in recession and will show negative growth in 2012; GDP will fall sharply in Greece and Portugal, and there is substantial risk that Spain and Italy will follow suit (the Commission's recent forecasts seem overly optimistic and complacent; the IMF is more downbeat). But fiscal policies are uniformly restrictive throughout the eurozone and much of the Union, and the hopes that fiscal consolidation could spur growth by improving household and business confidence are not materialising. In reality, domestic demand has been hit too hard by fiscal consolidation, and investment throughout the Union remains well below pre- crisis levels. Credit is tight due to the deteriorating quality of borrowers and the ongoing deleveraging in banking.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Noriko Fujiwara
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: From 2006 to 2011, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP) provided a non-legally binding framework based on a public–private partnership to support projects towards clean development and climate objectives in seven countries in the region. Three of the eight sectoral APP task forces (on power generation and transmission, cement and steel) are to continue their activities under the Global Superior Energy Performance partnership (GSEP), with a stronger focus on energy efficiency and environmental performance, and participation expanded to the global scale. This decision was based on the official view that the APP activities were successful and could lead to other successes in similar initiatives with similar working formats.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Thomas Mayer
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that the new permanent European rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), should be provided with a liquidity backstop by having it registered as a bank – and be treated as such by the European Central Bank. If the crisis were to become acute again, the ESM would stand ready to intervene in secondary markets, potentially with almost unlimited amounts of funding. Access to central bank financing will be crucial in a future crisis, because in such a crisis risk aversion is likely to be extreme, and even the ESM might not be able to raise at very short notice the huge sums that might be required to prevent a breakdown of the financial system. Hundreds of billions of euro might be needed just to top up the programmes for Greece, Ireland and Portugal – and Spain and Italy may require more than a thousand billion euro. Sums of this order of magnitude cannot be raised quickly by a new institution. Simply increasing the headline size of the ESM might thus be of little use.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Jonas Teusch
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief argues that pursuing the renewables objective could contribute to the completion of the internal electricity market, help to overcome opposition to transmission projects and decrease the market power of incumbents. Conversely, an integrated internal electricity market means less price volatility in specific regional markets, which allows for more efficient deployment and grid integration of renewables.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Lukas Obholzer, Christine Reh
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The Constitutional Affairs Committee is currently reviewing the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure to increase the effectiveness, transparency and inclusiveness of first-reading agreements under co-decision. This CEPS Policy Brief takes a stand as to which rules should be adopted to achieve these objectives. Given the steep rise of early agreements and Parliament's role as a guarantor of EU legitimacy, we place a premium on inclusiveness and transparency. The rules suggested are designed to maintain efficiency for technical proposals, facilitate effective decision-making on urgent files and increase the overall legitimacy of legislative decision-making in the EU.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Paul De Grauwe
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: One of the major problems of the eurozone is the divergence of the competitive positions that have built up since the early 2000s. This divergence has led to major imbalances in the eurozone where the countries that have seen their competitive positions deteriorate (mainly the so - called ' PIIGS ' – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain ) have accumulated large current account deficits and thus external indebtedness, matched by current account surpluses of the countries that have improved their competitive positions (mainly Germany).
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Lax financial conditions can foster credit booms. The global credit boom of the last decade led to large capital flows across the world, including large movements of resources from the Northern countries of the euro area towards the Southern part. Since the start of the crisis and more markedly after 2009, these flows have suddenly stopped, creating severe adjustment pressures. This paper argues that, at this point, the common monetary policy can only try to mitigate the unavoidable adjustment by maintaining overall financial stability. The challenge is to strike a delicate balance between providing liquidity for solvent institutions while keeping the overall pressure on for a rapid correction of the imbalances.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Cinzia Alcidi
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Spain faces high unemployment and slow growth. This paper focuses on an important source of those problems, namely its housing market. While some adjustment has occurred since Spain's housing bubble burst in 2008, the authors find that house prices and construction need to decrease more to slow Spain's unsustainable accumulation of foreign debt.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Author: Rym Ayadi, Emrah Arbak, Willem Pieter De Groen
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Adopted by the European Commission in July 2011, the proposed Capital Requirements Directive and Regulation (CRD IV-CRR) translate into EU law the Basel III standards adopted by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (BCBS). Among other things, the proposal increases the quality and quantity of the minimum capital; introduces new rules on liquidity, leverage ratios, counter-cyclical buffers and systemically important financial institutions; and amends the definitions of counterparty credit risk and rules for the banking book. The rules complement the earlier amendments that strengthened the capital and disclosure requirements for the trading book and resecuritization instruments as well as requirements to ensure that remuneration policies do not lead to excessive risk-taking.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe