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By Brian Ardy, Iain Begg, Dermot Hodson PhD, Imelda Maher, David G. Mayes (auth.)

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The rationale for such a body is to act as a fiscal authority, capable of overcoming the fragmentation of both decision-making and economic policy that results from separate national decisions. But it could be argued that instead of being constituted largely as a fiscal policy counterpart to a powerful and integrated monetary policy, any new body should have a broader remit to orchestrate policy 16 Adjusting to EMU across a range of supply-side domains. The BEPGs provide a framework within which to develop such an approach – certainly by comparison with the SGP – but have had limited visibility in the policy process, perhaps pointing to shortcomings of ‘soft law’ forms of economic governance.

Here the EU has a Macroeconomic Policy in EMU 29 great advantage over any individual country as it can enter into an agreement where countries are penalised by their partners for adopting inadequately prudent plans (and has done so). Fiscal Responsibility Acts and fiscal policy principles, as in the UK or New Zealand for example, may be very meritorious in their own right, but if the country itself is the guarantor of their being adhered to in future, their value is more limited. It might be possible to embed such an act into the constitution or require a super-majority in parliament to overturn it, but the suspicion that it will be over-ridden in the first bout of serious difficulty will be very difficult to dispel.

The degree of difference between states is explored, including whether states are subject to similar shocks and how they respond to them (given states do not have the same social preferences this prompts different responses to the same problems). This phenomenon of asymmetry has been well documented but this chapter contends that asymmetry is not just about inter-country differences but extends to the way the process of growth and economic cycles generate asymmetric problems for macroeconomic policy.

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