Policy brief

Europe's growth emergency

This Policy Contribution puts forward policy recommendations to move towards growth rebuilding in the EU, reducing the fragility of the European ban

Publishing date
21 October 2011

The European Union growth agenda has become even more pressing because growth is needed to support public and private sector deleveraging, reduce the fragility of the banking sector, counter the falling behind of southern European countries and prove that Europe is still a worthwhile place to invest.

The crisis has a similar impact on most European countries and the US: a persistent drop in output level and a growth slowdown. This contrasts sharply with the experience of the emerging countries of Asia and Latin America.

Productivity improvement was immediate in the US, but Europe hoarded labour and productivity improvements were in general delayed. Southern European countries have hardly adjusted so far.

There is a negative feedback loop between the crisis and growth, and without effective solutions to overturn the crisis, growth is unlikely to resume. National and EU level policies should aim to foster reforms and adjustment and should not risk medium term objectives under the pressure of events. A more hands-on approach, including industrial policies, should be considered.

Earlier versions of this Policy Contribution were presented at the Bruegel-PIIE conference on Transatlantic economic challenges in an era of growing multipolarity, Berlin, 27 September 2011, and at the BEPA-Polish Presidency conference on Sources of growth in Europe, Brussels, 6 October 2011.

About the authors

  • Jean Pisani-Ferry

    Jean Pisani-Ferry holds the Tommaso Padoa Schioppa chair of the European University Institute. He is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, the European think tank, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute (Washington DC). He is also a professor of economics with Sciences Po (Paris).

    He sits on the supervisory board of the French Caisse des Dépôts and serves as non-executive chair of I4CE, the French institute for climate economics.

    Pisani-Ferry served from 2013 to 2016 as Commissioner-General of France Stratégie, the ideas lab of the French government. In 2017, he contributed to Emmanuel Macron’s presidential bid as the Director of programme and ideas of his campaign. He was from 2005 to 2013 the Founding Director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank that he had contributed to create. Beforehand, he was Executive President of the French PM’s Council of Economic Analysis (2001-2002), Senior Economic Adviser to the French Minister of Finance (1997-2000), and Director of CEPII, the French institute for international economics (1992-1997).

    Pisani-Ferry has taught at University Paris-Dauphine, École Polytechnique, École Centrale and the Free University of Brussels. His publications include numerous books and articles on economic policy and European policy issues. He has also been an active contributor to public debates with regular columns in Le Monde and for Project Syndicate.

  • Zsolt Darvas

    Zsolt Darvas, a Hungarian citizen, joined Bruegel as a Visiting Fellow in September 2008 and continued his work at Bruegel as a Research Fellow from January 2009, before being appointed Senior Fellow from September 2013. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Corvinus University of Budapest.

    From 2005 to 2008, he was the Research Advisor of the Argenta Financial Research Group in Budapest. Before that, he worked at the research unit of the Central Bank of Hungary (1994-2005) where he served as Deputy Head.

    Zsolt holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Corvinus University of Budapest where he teaches courses in Econometrics but also at other institutions since 1994. His research interests include macroeconomics, international economics, central banking and time series analysis.

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