Category: European Union

Markets & Geopolitics: Europe’s complicated pursuit of strategic autonomy

On June 17 2020, ahead of a tense EU-China summit, the European Commission published a white paper on levelling the playing field as regards foreign subsidies. The white paper is the result of a yearlong inflexion in EU’s foreign policy and economic doctrine in order to adapt the European Union to the realities of a Multipolar World by promoting a model of open strategic autonomy and by acknowledging China as a “strategic competitor” and as a “strategic rival”.

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Macro Focus: ECB macro projections and the PEPP extension: shooting in the dark

Following the meeting of its Governing Council on June 4, the ECB announced an extension of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) with an additional enveloppe of €600 billion. The total asset purchases made by the Eurosystem (ECB+ National Central Banks) to counter the coronavirus crisis including PEPP and additional APP purchases is now expected to reach almost €1.5 trillion. The bleak outlook for inflation shows the profound deflationary forces at work in the Euro area. Judging from the experience of the last few years, we believe the ECB’s assessment of an uptick in core inflation by 2022 to be too optimistic.

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Macro Focus: An analysis of the European Commission’s Next Generation €750 billion recovery plan

the European Commission unveiled a €750 billion “Next Generation” recovery programme (€440 billion grants, €60 billion guarantees and €250 billion loans) over the 2021-2024 period. The Next Generation programme would preallocate funds to the Member States prioritising the green and digital transitions mainly through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (€560 billion). It includes additional cohesion funding for €45 billion. As we show in our analysis, Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece, Romania and Portugal would be the main beneficiaries of this proposal which is likely to meet resistance from the “Frugal four” (Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark).
For the first time in EU history, fiscal expenditure would be financed through debt issued by the European Commission and backed by all the Member states, along the line of a French-German proposal. However, while this proposal is a welcome step toward fiscal integration, it is still short of a Hamiltonian moment for Europe”. The countercyclical policies needed to close the output gap left by the coronavirus crisis will still have to be conducted at the Member State level.

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Macro Focus: “Karlsruhe vs. Frankfurt”: An analysis of the May 5 ruling by the German Constitutional Court and its potential impact on the ECB and economic policymaking at the EU level.

There are at least two ways to read the decision rendered by the German Constitutional Court – BundesVerfassungsGericht or BVerfG – on May 5, 2020 (BVerfG, Urteil des Zweiten Senats vom 5. Mai 2020), in the case opposing the ECB to a group of complainants claiming that the Frankfurt-based monetary institution went beyond its legal mandate, when it decided in March 2015 to launch a large scale asset purchase programme (APP) targeting first and foremost government bonds. We can read it through the lenses of an Economic Policy or through the lenses of a Constitutional law and Politics. From both perspectives, the ruling contains useful insights that clarify some complicated institutional questions and shed light on economic policy options available to the ECB and to EU/Eurozone Member States. The fact that this ruling comes in the midst of an unprecedented global economic crisis, stemming from the radical measures enacted all over the world to combat the coronavirus pandemic, makes it even more critical for investors to understand its rationale and contending claims.

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Towards a renewed partnership between the European Union and Africa

Over the past few years, the African continent has relaunched its efforts of integration, through the reform of the African Union and the launch of the AfCFTA. By 2050 the population of Africa will have doubled. By relying on its increasingly well-educated youth, it could release its extraordinary economic potential. This transformation represents an historic opportunity for binding the African and European continents to each other, something that Robert Schuman wished for several decades ago. To achieve this, it is fundamental to articulate the North-South and South-South cooperation logics in order to encourage the emergence of an economic ecosystem that is both integrated and modular. Morocco’s experience is edifying in this respect. The new European executive, after the May 2019 elections, should make integration with Africa a strategic priority. This is not only a stake for the future. It is an existential imperative for Europe, at a time when security and migration threats are intensifying. It is particularly true if Europe want to continue to have an impact in the world, when faced with giants such as China and the United States.

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