ACCRUAL BUDGETING AND FISCAL CONSOLIDATION IN THE EMU
F. Javier Salinas
Drawing on modern macroeconomic literature focusing on the study of politico-institutional determinants of public policies, this article analyzes the institutional design of the European fiscal policy laid down by the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Stability and Growth Pact. Both documents provide countries in the EU, and in particular those that have adopted the euro, with a common code of fiscal conduct that is expected to uphold discipline in the management of government finances. Nevertheless, a simple review of this code of conduct shows the existence of serious drawbacks mainly derived from the asymmetry between the treatment given to outcomes of fiscal policy in comparison with that given to the procedures followed in generating them. It seems that the current design of the European fiscal coordination system does not really take into account the findings of modern macroeconomics and does not pay due attention to the relation between budgetary processes/institutions and outcomes in fiscal policy. Moreover, this article argues that in the implementation of the broad reforms needed to achieve a sustainable fiscal consolidation, there are political complementarities (in the sense that the ability to gain political consent for one reform depends on the acceptance of other reforms) between the setting up of new fiscal policies of expenditure containment and new fiscal procedures. Copyright 2002 Western Economic Association International.
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