The Fiscal Reform Experience of the Early Days of the Economic and Monetary Union
 
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Publish date: 2011-02-28
 
Gospodarka Narodowa 2011;245(1-2):43–62
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ABSTRACT
The author analyzes the experience of fiscal reforms carried out in the European Union after the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The treaty provides for what are called convergence criteria for countries aspiring to join the eurozone. After the treaty was signed a period of fiscal adjustments began in Europe. In the following years, individual countries pursued different strategies and attained different results in the process. The article aspires to be a source of information for those seeking to develop an optimal reform strategy for Poland—now that the Polish government has clearly stated that Poland should become part of the euro zone in the future. Using statistical data, Gajewski discusses how the convergence criteria adopted in the Maastricht Treaty (reference values for the deficit and public debt) influence fiscal policy in terms of the effectiveness of the strategy for adjusting government revenue and expenditure. It turns out that the fiscal convergence criterion could increase the pro-cyclical aspect of fiscal policy in the period directly preceding the launch of the third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union and in the first few years of the system’s functioning, Gajewski says. His research confirms earlier findings that effectively bringing down the deficit below the reference level requires focusing one’s efforts on the expenditure rather than revenue side of the budget. This may be because limiting expenditure calls for more comprehensive reforms covering structural changes and increased effectiveness of available resources. According to Gajewski, countries that have met the fiscal criterion by limiting expenditure generally took longer to meet this criterion and had a higher budget balance on average, during the period of the eurozone’s functioning, than countries that focused their strategies on the revenue side of the budget and stopgap measures. The author concludesthat the adopted strategy for public finance consolidation had far-reaching consequences for the competitiveness of individual countries and may have been one of the main causes behind the crisis, which hit the eurozone in 2008.
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ISSN:0867-0005