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  • Author: Gregory Claeys, Zsolt Darvas, Maria Demertzis, Guntram B. Wolff
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the biggest global recession since the Second World War. Forecasts show the European Union underperforming economically relative to the United States and China during 2019-2023. Southern European countries have been particularly strongly affected. While the ICT sector has benefitted from the COVID-19 crisis, tourism, travel and services have suffered. Business insolvencies have, paradoxically, fallen. While total employment has almost recovered, the young and those with low-level qualifications have suffered employment losses. Inequality could rise. The pandemic may lead to medium to long-term changes in the economy, with more teleworking, possibly higher productivity growth and changed consumer behaviour. Policymakers must act to prevent lasting divergence within the EU and to prevent scarring from the fallout from the pandemic. The first priority is tackling the global health emergency. Second, we warn against premature fiscal tightening and recommend instead additional short-term support from national budgets. Over the medium term, fiscal policymakers will need to gradually move away from supporting companies through subsidies, towards tax incentives for corporate investment. A review of the European fiscal framework is needed to achieve the EU’s green goals more rapidly. The quality of public finances, how policymakers spend resources and the associated reforms are of central importance to prevent scarring. Improving the efficiency of insolvency procedures will be crucial for speedy and effective recovery. Targeted labour market policies for the young and less-qualified are needed. As teleworking becomes a more permanent feature of the EU’s labour markets, it will be crucial to adapt social security and taxation systems in the context of the single market for labour. The EU should resist protectionist calls in the wake of the pandemic. Rigorous competition policy enforcement and an integrated EU market have been beneficial for European convergence and growth. Capital markets have an important role to play in a speedy recovery.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Inequality, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hugh Lovatt
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: European policy this year saw significant wins in Israel-Palestine: helping to block Donald Trump’s ‘peace’ plan and to avoid Israel’s de jure annexation of Palestinian territory. But Europe is failing to fundamentally challenge the worsening situation on the ground, which is storing up future instability and threatens European interests. The Oslo process is exhausted and a viable two-state outcome is slipping out of reach. Instead of its rigid focus on the Oslo peace process, the EU should craft a new peacemaking paradigm based on equality and deoccupation. The absence of a two-state solution will mean Israel ensuring equal rights for Palestinians in one democratic state. The EU should also deter Israeli settlement activity and push Palestinians towards political renewal as prerequisites for a future resolution of the conflict.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Inequality, Oslo Accords, Instability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Roy van der Weide, Ambar Narayan, Mario Negre
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: A country where an individual’s chances of success depend little on the socio-economic success of his or her parents is said to be a country with high relative intergenerational mobility. A government’s motivation for seeking to improve mobility is arguably two-fold. There is a fairness argument and an economic efficiency argument. When mobility is low, it means that individuals are not operating on a level playing field. The odds of someone born to parents from the bottom of their generation will be stacked against him or her. This is not only unfair but also leads to a waste of human capital, as talented individuals may not be given the opportunity to reach their full potential. Reducing this inefficiency will raise the stock of human capital and thereby stimulate economic growth. Since the waste of human capital tends to be concentrated toward the bottom of the distribution, the growth brought about by mobility-promoting policy interventions tends to be of an inclusive nature, in line with the spirit of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 on reducing inequality. For large parts of the world’s population, individual education is still too closely tied to the education of one’s parents, and there is a clear divide between the high-income and developing world. The patterns observed globally are also observed within Europe. Intergenerational mobility (or equality of opportunity) is visibly lower in the new member states (i.e. Eastern Europe), where national incomes are lower. Raising investment in the human capital of poor children towards levels that are more comparable to the investment received by children from richer families will curb the importance of parental background in determining an individual’s human capital. Countries at any stage of development can raise intergenerational mobility by investing more to equalise opportunities. The evidence strongly suggests that public interventions are more likely to increase mobility when: a) public investments are sufficiently large, b) are targeted to benefit disadvantaged families/ neighbourhoods, c) focus on early childhood, and d) when there is a low degree of political power captured by the rich.
  • Topic: Education, Children, Inequality, Family, Economic Mobility
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus, European Union
  • Author: Marta Pilati
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: The industrial transformation towards a more sustainable, technological and knowledge-intensive economy can bring prosperity to the EU, but also bears the risk of increasing disparities among the EU territories. On the one hand, some regions are more fit to benefit from these changes. On the other, economic activity, especially one that is knowledge- and innovation-intensive, tends to spatially cluster in areas that are already more advanced. Productivity, innovation, skills and thriving firms will increasingly concentrate in a few wealthy areas, while the less prosperous are excluded from the gains. The current debate on an EU industrial policy overlooks this issue of inequality and instead focuses on competitiveness vis-à-vis global competitors, key technologies and achieving sustainability commitments. While this is important, the focus on the technological frontier, international trade and knowledge-intensive production could create unintended negative consequences due to the lack of an explicit goal for even development and inclusive industrial transition. In this Policy Brief, Policy Analyst Marta Pilati argues that the EU industrial strategy should be centred on the issue of inequality. This can be achieved by challenging misconceived assumptions, critically evaluating past and future policies, and designing measures that target all EU regions and successfully bring them along the transformation.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Inequality, Trade, Industry
  • Political Geography: Europe