In the publication series “Europa Briefing”, the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Jacques Delors Institut – Berlin cover key topics of European politics and present possible scenarios: What is the problem? What might happen next? And what can politics do now?
The series consists of ten poster-sized briefings that will be published throughout 2017. Each poster addresses a distinct policy area, ranging from low interest rates in the eurozone to the Four Freedoms governing the Single Market.
So far, six Europa Briefings have been published in German:
Low interest rates. Since 2013, inflation in the euro area has been too low. In order to revive the economy and stabilize inflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) has implemented a low interest rate policy which includes a bond-buying program known as quantitative easing (QE). These measures don’t come without risk. For example, some observers fear the formation of a bubble in the real estate and stock markets or complain about one-sided capital gains for wealthy households. How imminent are these risks for the euro area? What could be the worst case scenario? And what can governments do to get inflation back to target?
Convergence. The euro countries are economically different from each other. The crisis has made some of those differences more acute, a tendency that could further destabilize the currency union. The euro countries therefore need to agree on which type of convergence is most important to them and how they can achieve it. In what areas do the countries need to converge? What differences could or should remain? And what instruments are needed to achieve this?
Banking Union. The Banking Union was established in 2012 to break the vicious cycle of fragile banks and weak public finances in the euro area. It currently encompasses the European banking supervision and bank resolution mechanisms. However, some key elements are still missing. What further steps are needed in order to complete the Banking Union? And how stable are European banks eight years after the financial crisis?
Leaving the euro. Up to now, the European Treaties do not provide for member states to leave the euro. On the one hand, this protects the currency from speculative attacks; on the other hand, the lack of an exit option also constrains the room for political manoeuvre in times of crisis. Why was the euro designed as a one-way-street? What would be the consequences if an exit option was introduced? And what could be alternatives to a full-blown exit?
Four Freedoms. The Four Freedoms govern the unrestricted movement of goods, persons, ser-vices and capital within the EU. They serve as the cornerstones of the Single Market and the euro, and many citizens regard them as the greatest achievement of the European unification project. Brexit meanwhile has reignited the discussion on the free movement of persons, i.e. the opportunity to live and work in any EU country. Technically speaking, it is possible to separate the four freedoms, but does it make political sense?
The EU Budget. While comparatively small, the Union's budget remains a controversial topic. Brexit will further fuel the debate on rebates and redistribution. Where does the EU get its money from? Who benefits from its spending? And which proposals are on the table to render the budget more transparent and efficient?