Structural policies in the euro area (2018)

Brian Micallef, Noel Rapa et al


Structural policies in the euro area are of great interest for the Eurosystem, particularly as they can support the smooth functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the effectiveness of monetary policy. This paper adopts a broad definition of structural policies, analysing not only the benefits of efficient labour, product and financial market regulations, but also emphasising the importance of good governance and efficient institutions that ensure high quality and impartial public services, the rule of law and the control of rent-seeking. The paper concludes that there are many opportunities for enhanced structural policies in EU and euro area countries which can yield substantial gains by boosting long-term income and employment growth and supporting social fairness, also via better and more equal opportunities. It provides empirical and model-based analyses on the impacts and the interactions of structural policies, highlighting synergies between growth and inclusiveness, while acknowledging that structural policy changes need to be country-specific to reflect national conditions and social preferences. Well-designed structural policies would also strengthen economic resilience and convergence of Member States, bringing the euro area closer to the requirements of an optimal currency area and improving the transmission of monetary policy. The paper also discusses the political economy causes of the sluggish implementation of socially beneficial structural policies and assesses ways to deal with possible short term costs of reforms.

ECB Occasional Paper 210/2018