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02 Mar 2006

What can European leaders learn from Koizumi?

Angel Ubide

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Following a long period of stagnation, Japan is growing again. The key to this success story is Koizumi’s relentless focus on structural reform, with two objectives: breaking the structural trap of political constituencies defending old and unproductive economic sectors; and adopting a two-pronged macro-micro approach to make reform unavoidable. This paper argues that Europe should follow a similar strategy whereby financial market integration, and not the EU bureaucracy and grandiose political declarations, should be the main driving force of national economic reforms, pressuring liberalisation in goods and services markets and making labour market reforms unavoidable.