The independence of fiscal councils
One lesson learned from the spiralling fiscal deficits that emerged during the crisis was the importance of national fiscal councils to monitor national budget-making vis-à-vis the sustainability of fiscal deficits. It is clear that the key to the success of these bodies is their independence from other national institutions. On January 28th, CEPS organised a conference on “Advisory European Fiscal Board and Network of National Fiscal Councils: Friends or foe?” to explore how the formation of a European Fiscal Board (EFB) might potentially affect the performance and the essential independence of fiscal councils. Ľudovít Ódor, Vice-Chair of the Network of EU Independent Fiscal Institutions and member of the Slovak Fiscal Council, highlighted the complexity of European fiscal rules and the need to appoint a qualified and capable individual to deal with this task on a national level. An EFB might be complementary in terms of data acquisition and analysis in this regard, but this complementarity also poses problems. Even if the EFB takes the form of an advisory body, national perceptions may view it as a European watchdog interfering in the deliberations of national fiscal councils and jeopardising their independence. One of the key advantages of an EFB would be its emphasis on the fiscal stance of economies in the euro area besides those of individual member states.