Policy highlights, December 2013

1. Council of the European Union: ECOFIN meeting results (10 December 2013)

“The Council updated its position on bank recovery and resolution and deposit guarantee schemes in the light of on-going negotiations with the European Parliament. 

It adopted a decision deeming action taken by Poland to correct its excessive deficit to be insufficient. It issued a new recommendation, extending the deadline for correction of Poland’s deficit by one year, to 2015. 

The Council reviewed excessive deficit procedures for Spain, France, Malta, the Netherlands and Slovenia, adopting opinions on their economic partnership programmes.”


2. European Commission: “Croatia: Commission takes steps under the Excessive Deficit Procedure” (10 December 2013)

“Today, the Commission is issuing an opinion, proposing to the Council of Ministers to decide that an excessive deficit exists in Croatia. 

The Commission is also issuing a recommendation for the Council to decide on the proposed adjustment path and budgetary targets in order for Croatia to correct the excessive deficit and ensure that the country's deficit and debt are brought back into line with the requirements of the EU Treaty.”

3. European Commission: The Economic Adjustment Programme for Portugal-Eighth and Ninth Review (November 2013)

“The New Legal Regime on Urbanism and Building (RJUE), which is expected  to  be  adopted  by November  2013,  is  a  critical  piece of complementary legislation on which progress in other areas depends. Progress has been achieved in some areas, such as (1) the  draft  Base Law for Soils, Territorial Planning and Urbanism proposal has been submitted to Parliament;(2) the adoption of a Decree  Law  which  fast-tracks  the  decisions regarding licensing requirements of investment projects over EUR 25 million; (3) the adoption of a new  Environmental Impact Evaluation regime, whose  compliance  with  the  European  legal  is being  assessed  by  the  Commission;  and (4) two ordinances on industrial licensing.”

4. European Parliament – Committee on Employment and Social Affairs: DRAFT OPINION on Enquiry report on the role and operations of the Troika (ECB, Commission and IMF) with regard to the euro area programme countries (10 December 2013)

“9. Is concerned that, among the conditions for financial assistance, the programmes include recommendations for specific cuts in fundamental areas of the fight against poverty, such as pensions, basic services, health care and pharmaceutical products for the basic protection of the most vulnerable; highlights the fact that the main impact of these measures is on the fight against child poverty; 10. Notes that Commission figures and various studies show that between 2008 and 2012 income distribution inequality grew in the four countries, and that the cuts in social and unemployment benefits resulting from austerity measures, as well as the wage reductions due to structural reforms, are raising poverty levels; notes, furthermore, that the Commission report found relatively high levels of in-work poverty due to low minimum wages being cut or frozen as a result of the austerity measures;  11. Deplores the fact that the level of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has increased in the four countries; points out that during the last three years alone, figures show that the proportion of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has risen to 26% in Portugal and to 15% in Ireland; notes, moreover, that these statistics hide a much harsher reality, which is that when GDP per capita falls, the poverty threshold also falls, meaning that we now consider to be out of poverty people who until recently were considered in poverty;”

5. VOX: Scrapping subsidies during the Global Crisis – Evidence from Europe  (5 December 2013).

“Many governments around the world have introduced scrapping schemes during the last financial and economic crisis. In Europe, they were especially popular during the year 2009. Governments aimed to counteract the sharply declining demand for cars, while at the same time promoting cleaner cars with lower CO2 emissions. The effectiveness of the scrapping schemes for both of these objectives remains an open question. Most recent empirical work has looked at the 2009 ‘Cash for Clunkers’ programme in the US, which cost $2.85 billion and lasted for only one month. Li et al. (2013) find positive short-term effects on car sales (as do Mian and Sufi 2012), but the effect eroded over a longer time horizon, and the environmental benefits were small. In Europe, Sinn (2009) questioned the environmental benefits of the 2009 German scrapping programme. He argued that the fuel savings from replacing old gas guzzlers with new cleaner cars are lower than the energy cost of producing these new cars."

6. Joseph Rowntree Foundation & New Policy Foundation: Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2013 (8 December 2013)

“This annual report by the New Policy Institute gives a comprehensive picture of poverty in the UK, featuring analysis of low income, unemployment, low pay, homelessness and ill health.

A focus on the geographical distribution of disadvantage reveals that national averages mask huge variations between areas in unemployment, educational achievement, and life expectancy. The research shows that:

  • more than half of the 13 million people living in poverty in the UK in 2011/12 were in a working family;
  • while the labour market has shown signs of revival in the last year, the number of people in low-paid jobs has risen and average incomes have fallen – around five million people are paid below the living wage”

7. Fabian Society, Green Europe: Reconciling the local and the global (20 November 2013).

“Europe on the eve of the 2014 elections is at a crossroads. The financial crisis and economic stagnation that has followed has caused national politics in individual member states to increasingly look inwards.

As Europe questions its own commitment to international action across a range of environmental areas, other countries including the emerging economies of Brazil, India and China are to different extents developing ambitious environmental policy frameworks of their own. To avoid losing its status as a leader in environmental policy on the international stage, democratic consent needs to be secured for a more popular environmentalism throughout Europe.

This report explores ways in which political space to debate the future of both Europe and the environment can be expanded and become more constructive and helpful both for people today and for future generations.”

Last modified onSunday, 02 February 2014 20:03
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