22 May 2012

Europe’s Recurrent Employment Problems

Daniel Gros

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As unemployment climbs to new heights, Europe’s policy-makers are desperately casting about for the few instruments with which the EU can claim to foster growth. After a thorough examination of the facts on the ground, however, this paper finds that the North and the South of the euro area are diverging so much that they need very different policy prescriptions. Moreover, it points out that the two instruments that the EU has at its disposal to address structural problems in the South (the EIB and the Structural Funds) are unlikely to be effective this time. Nevertheless, the paper concludes that the situation is not hopeless and that deep service-sector reforms in Germany would also be helpful to unlock the country’s productivity potential and open its market for the export of services from southern Europe. Opening the German market would yield a ‘double dividend’: not only would Germany benefit, but the South would also have the chance to find jobs for its rather well-educated youth, which right now face only the unhappy choice between unemployment and emigration.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.

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