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Policy Contribution

Making the best of the European single market

Now more than ever, the EU needs to address concerns about the significant decline in productivity growth and the increasing perception of unfairness. Completing the single market would unlock the EU's growth potential. At the same time, the EU should empower member states to fight inequality by helping them better distribute the gains arising from economic integration.

By: , , and Date: February 2, 2017 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

  • The slow-down in productivity and income over the past decade has weakened the European Union’s output legitimacy, which is grounded in delivering prosperity to its citizens. At the same time, decreasing growth reduces the capacity of governments to maintain existing levels of welfare protection and translates into a perception of rising unfairness and inequality across and within EU countries.
  • It is estimated that remaining non-tariff obstacles, in particular in services sectors, limit intra-EU trade to a level about four times smaller than the intensity of trade between US states. By completing the single market, the EU could generate significant income gains. However the more straightforward steps have already been taken, so the single market agenda now touches upon specific domestic regulations in EU countries.
  • We recommend a two-pillar strategy: for sectors with large externalities and/or economies of scale (such as energy or telecoms), regulations should be harmonised and at least close coordination between regulators should be achieved; for other services sectors, the efficiency of individual regulations on a cost-benefit basis with respect to their objective should be assessed, with systematic benchmarking.
  • We also recommend pursuing a credible environmental policy agenda on a destination basis (impacting both EU and non-EU firms) rather than on an origin basis (which is the case today), through a combination of ambitious technical standards, a reference path for the carbon price and revenue-neutral tax instruments. This would stimulate long-term investment in the energy transition without overly hurting EU firms’ competitiveness.
  • To further stimulate investment, especially in innovative sectors, we suggest moving ahead decisively with the capital markets union agenda. In parallel, the use of EU funds should be reviewed taking into account the objectives of economic convergence, spillovers between member states and solidarity.
  • EU national governments are responsible for welfare-related redistribution. However EU policies can help by empowering member countries to address the possible effects of EU integration, or by developing EU-wide instruments to limit its impact on possible losers. We argue that tax and social security avoidance or fraud need to be combatted with modern tools, eg a single electronic interface to monitor the payment of social charges of posted workers in their home countries. In order to fight corporate tax avoidance and improve tax fairness, the interest and royalties directive could be modified if the project of a common, consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) proves too difficult to agree.
  • Finally, we recommend making social security systems more neutral with respect to intra-EU migration, eg by introducing the full continuation of home-country unemployment rights for migrant jobseekers, with closer cooperation between national employment services, and by centralising information on pension entitlements on a single platform.
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External Publication

Diversification and the world trading system

Diversification is important because it is associated with economic growth and reduced volatility.

By: Uri Dadush, Niclas Poitiers, Abdelaaziz Ait Ali, Mohammed Al Doghan, Muhammad Bhatti, Carlos Braga and Anabel González Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 16, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2020 - Day 3

Third day of Bruegel Annual Meetings.

Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 3, 2020
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Opinion

China Has an Unfair Advantage in the EU Market. What Can Be Done to Level the Playing Field?

This article has originally been published in Brink News. The dominance of Chinese state-owned enterprises in China’s domestic market is giving them unfair advantages in the European Union single market as well. The EU Commission recently released a series of recommendations for leveling the playing field regarding foreign subsidies. Unfortunately, while useful, these ideas are unlikely to […]

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 28, 2020
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Opinion

Can households in the European Union make ends meet?

Half the households surveyed by Eurostat see themselves as unable to find the resources they would need to cope with an unexpected expense within a month, estimated by experts at €375 in the case of Greece.

By: Maria Demertzis, Marta Domínguez-Jiménez and Annamaria Lusardi Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: July 24, 2020
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Opinion

An equity fund for a zombie-free and EU-wide recovery

Four guiding principles can help ensure a well designed EU equity fund.

By: Julia Anderson, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 26, 2020
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Blog Post

COVID-19: The self-employed are hardest hit and least supported

Self-employed workers are hardest-hit by COVID-19 lockdowns. Yet they often receive less government support than salaried employees. Is the disparity justified?

By: Julia Anderson Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 8, 2020
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Blog Post

How COVID-19 is laying bare inequality

COVID-19 is laying bare socio-economic inequalities and could exacerbate them in the near future. The virus is a risk factor particularly for those at the lower end of the income distribution, who are vulnerable to the interaction of the shock with income, socio-economic and urban inequalities.

By: Enrico Bergamini Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 31, 2020
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Opinion

What if the rest of Europe follows Italy's coronavirus fate?

The silence from Brussels could be as damaging as the silence on Italian streets

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 11, 2020
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Blog Post

Three macroeconomic issues and Covid-19

COVID-19 raises a number of serious issues of a sanitary, social and economic nature. While recognizing the difficulty of giving definitive answers at this early stage, we attempt to shed light on three critical macroeconomic topics.

By: Leonardo Cadamuro and Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 10, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The future of taxation in the EU: tax solidarity

Tadeusz Kościński, the Minister of Finance of Poland, talked about taxation policy in the EU.

Speakers: Piotr Arak, Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez, Tadeusz Kościński and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: February 17, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The quality and quantity of work in the age of AI

At this event, the panelists will discuss the implications of Artificial Intelligence on the labour market and the future of work in general.

Speakers: Robert Atkinson, Anna Byhovskaya, Maria Demertzis, Carl Frey and Daniel Samaan Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: February 5, 2020
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Opinion

European capital markets union, by rule and by choice

While the euro is now a leading global currency and the European Central Bank has become a comprehensive banking supervisor, Europe’s markets have been treading water.

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: January 23, 2020
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