Structural Reforms: What gains?

No call for policy action has been heard more consistently than the one demanding structural reforms. It echoes as a remedy for economic ills across Europe; from Helsinki to Athens. But can structural reforms be a pillar for renewing growth? A one-day CEPS conference on September 16th explored the potential gains – and not least how to measure and identify them – from further structural reform efforts. While there was broad agreement among presenters that structural reforms would be beneficial to promote growth in the EU, researchers were cautious in emphasising that it is no panacea. In particular, uncertainties about sequencing, estimated effects and the time lag it would take for these to materialise, and the potential for transplanting best practices to countries with different institution were voiced. Perhaps Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, participating as a panelist, had this in mind when he pledged to launch structural reform efforts 2.0 – entailing more targeted and appropriate reform efforts in the future. The central question remains, however: Should member states or the Commission be in the driver's seat?