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Policy Contribution

Electrifying Africa: how to make Europe’s contribution count

Electrification is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most pressing socio-economic challenges. Europe has created a myriad of fragmented initiatives to promote electrification in sub-Saharan Africa, limiting their efficacy. This sub-optimal situation should be changed by coordinating the initiatives of European institutions and EU countries through a unique platform: the EU Electrify Africa Hotspot.

By: Date: June 8, 2017 Topic: Energy & Climate

Electrification is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most pressing socio-economic challenges. Less than a third of the sub-Saharan population has access to electricity, and around 600,000 premature deaths are caused each year by household air pollution resulting from the use of polluting fuels for cooking and lighting.

Solving this issue is a fundamental prerequisite for unleashing sub-Saharan Africa’s economic potential. Given the magnitude of the challenge, only a joint effort involving sub-Saharan African countries and international public and private parties would pave the way to a solution.

Sub-Saharan African countries should be the first to move. They should reform the governance of their energy sectors, in particular by reforming their generally inefficient state-owned electricity utilities, and by phasing-out market-distorting energy subsidies. Without such reforms, international investment will never scale-up across sub-Saharan Africa.

International public and private parties must play a key role in facilitating sub-Saharan Africa’s energy transformation, particularly the electrification of rural areas, where three-fifths of the sub-Saharan African population lives. International public support is particularly important to crowd-in international private investors, most notably through innovative public-private partnerships.

China and the United States are already engaged in electrification in sub-Saharan Africa. China has substantially invested in large-scale electricity projects, while the US has put in place a comprehensive initiative – Power Africa – to scale-up electrification, particularly in rural areas, through public-private partnerships.

Europe has, instead, created a myriad of fragmented initiatives to promote electrification in sub-Saharan Africa, limiting their potential leverage in crowding-in private investment and in stimulating energy sector reforms in sub-Saharan African countries. This sub-optimal situation should be changed by coordinating the initiatives of European institutions and EU countries through a unique platform. We propose such a platform: the EU Electrify Africa Hotspot.

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Opinion

A tale of two pandemics

The two narratives briefly examined here cast light on different aspects of the EU in the times of Covid-19. Euroskeptic nationalists typically propagate claims of EU failure but have been rather subdued during the pandemic as mainstream governments have taken over their trademark policy of closing borders to foreigners. Nonetheless, the grip on power of several pro-EU mainstream leaders, including President Emmanuel Macron in France, Prime Minister Conte in Italy and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Spain, remains tenuous.

By: Michael Leigh Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 23, 2020
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Policy Brief

Rebooting Europe: a framework for a post COVID-19 economic recovery

COVID-19 has triggered a severe recession and policymakers in European Union countries are providing generous, largely indiscriminate, support to companies. As the recession gets deeper, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. This should be based on four principles: viability of supported entities, fairness, achieving societal goals, and giving society a share in future profits. The effort should be structured around equity and recovery funds with borrowing at EU level.

By: Julia Anderson, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 13, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

Post-Council commentary

On April 23, EU leaders met virtually to try to come to an agreement for a common European response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What were the measures taken? Will they be sufficient? Did Europe come together for a coordinated response to the crisis? Or did the meeting further highlight the cracks between member states? This week, Guntram Wolff and Giuseppe Porcaro are joined by Maria Demertzis and André Sapir to comment on the EU Council meeting.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 24, 2020
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Opinion

The perils of more debt

Europe must find the “Ways and Means”.

By: Maria Demertzis and Nicola Viegi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 10, 2020
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Opinion

Disease, like poverty, does not stay at home

To fight the Covid-19 pandemic, best practice responses in Africa need to be implemented around international collaboration. These include the need to activate emergency operations centres, to establish a surge capacity in health systems, and to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.

By: Yonas Adeto, Karim El Aynaoui, Thomas Gomart, Paolo Magri, Greg Mills, Karin von Hippel and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 8, 2020
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Podcast

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Mythbusters: debunking economic myths

Economics seems to be full of myths that are hard to debunk. Will robots take our jobs? Are trade deficits bad? Is China such a big economy simply because of the size of its population? This week, Nicholas Barrett, Maria Demertzis, Marta Domínguez-Jímenez and Niclas Poitiers put on the detective cap and become Bruegel's own economic mythbusters.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 3, 2020
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Opinion

Will the economic strategy work?

Because even thriving companies can be killed in a matter of weeks by a recession of the magnitude now confronting the world, advanced-economy governments have reacted in a remarkably similar fashion to the COVID-19 crisis. But extending liquidity lifelines to private businesses and supporting idled workers assumes a short crisis.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 1, 2020
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Podcast

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The macroeconomic policy response to the COVID-19 crisis

From the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to "coronabonds", the EU seems to be struggling to find an appropriate mechanism to tackle the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is really the best option? And how do we ensure that, once the pandemic is over, we return to sustainable debt levels and competitive economies? This week, Giuseppe Porcaro is joined by Lucrezia Reichlin, professor of Economics at the London Business School, Grégory Claeys and Guntram Wolff to discuss the macroeconomic policy response to the COVID-19 crisis.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 31, 2020
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Blog Post

The fiscal consequences of the pandemic

The likely economic depression triggered by coronavirus will pose a serious fiscal challenge to some euro-area countries. Given the special circumstances of the pandemic, a European solution is needed, involving more European Central Bank purchases, a significantly increased European Stability Mechanism and some degree of mutualisation of the pandemic-related economic costs.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 30, 2020
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Opinion

Europe needs a Covid-19 Recovery Programme

Policymakers need to think long-term and start planning a broad investment scheme to reboot the European economy.

By: Grégory Claeys, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 27, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

How can the EU prevent our economies from shutting down?

From flights cancelled and restaurants closed to companies either slowing or stopping their production, COVID-19 is shutting our economies down. How can the EU reboot them? What should be our fiscal and monetary response to the pandemic? Will our economic system ever be the same once everything is over? This week, Guntram Wolff is joined by Jean Pisani-Ferry and Maria Demertzis to discuss the EU's response to the coronavirus.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 18, 2020
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Blog Post

The case for a derivative market programme

The implementation of a Derivative Market Programme could reaffirm the ECB’s credibility and strong commitment to price stability.

By: Sybrand Brekelmans and Francesco Papadia Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: March 18, 2020
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