Iain Begg

The Eurogroup: No longer ‘jobs for the boys’?

The Eurogroup is due to appoint a new President, with Spanish finance minister Nadia Calviño viewed as the favourite to take over from outgoing President Mário Centeno. Iain Begg explains that if Calviño is successful, it would be a notable step for gender equality. However, the decision will also be a litmus test for the direction the EU takes […]

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    Next Generation EU (NGE): The Commission’s Covid-19 recovery package

Next Generation EU (NGE): The Commission’s Covid-19 recovery package

The European Commission has proposed a €750 billion package of grants and loans to aid the EU’s recovery from Covid-19. Iain Begg explains that much will now depend on whether the proposal can secure the backing of the so called ‘Frugal Four’ of Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.

‘Solidarity is back’, according to Manfred Weber (leader of the […]

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Covid-19: The struggle to agree an EU response

On 23 April, EU leaders directed the European Commission to draft a proposal for an economic rescue plan to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. Iain Begg writes that while the EU is shifting towards a more extensive response to the economic crisis, national sensitivities continue to constrain its ability to act and some will have to concede […]

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    How different will this time be? Assessing the prospects for economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis

How different will this time be? Assessing the prospects for economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis

Covid-19 has already generated a sharp fall in global GDP and a rapid rise in unemployment, but what kind of recovery can we expect once the crisis passes? Iain Begg and Jun Qian write that in the most optimistic scenario, the world will experience a return to trend growth once lockdowns are lifted. The more worrying possibilities are that […]

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Who pays for the war on Covid-19?

The Covid-19 outbreak has renewed calls for the Eurozone to establish a form of debt mutualisation, potentially via the creation of ‘Coronabonds’. So far, however, there is little sign of such a measure being agreed. Iain Begg writes that it is not ideas or proposals that are lacking at the EU level, but rather an absence of political will to […]

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The economic consequences of Covid-19

Covid-19 will have major economic consequences for Europe, but how large will the costs prove to be? Iain Begg outlines the difficult economic choices the outbreak poses for policymakers and analyses the long-term effects the economic downturn is likely to have.

Rapidly rising unemployment rates and warnings from many businesses about their viability testify to the looming economic threats from […]

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Deals, deals, deals: who needs them?

At a special meeting of the European Council on 20-21 February, EU leaders failed to reach an agreement on the organisation’s budget for 2021-27. As Iain Begg explains, the delicate process of negotiating the EU’s multi-annual financial framework (MFF) has been further complicated this time around by Brexit, with some states believing the loss of the UK’s budget contributions should […]

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A new take on ‘whatever it takes’?

Outgoing ECB President Mario Draghi recently expressed support for a closer fiscal union in the Eurozone, including cross-border fiscal transfers. As Iain Begg writes, these statements have reinvigorated the debate between advocates for risk sharing and proponents of risk reduction. Draghi’s predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet, has defended Draghi and his proposals against criticism from other former central bankers, but resistance […]

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Italy rues the rules

On 21 November, the European Commission formally objected to Italy’s draft budget for 2019. But the Italian government refuses to compromise. Iain Begg explores what this stand-off might mean for the governance of the Eurozone.

The contest between the Italian government and the European Commission over the former’s budget plans for 2019 has highlighted an enduring problem in EU economic […]

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    From ‘Vincolo Esterno’ to ‘Nemico Esterno’: The disturbing new demonisation of the EU

From ‘Vincolo Esterno’ to ‘Nemico Esterno’: The disturbing new demonisation of the EU

The dispute between Italy and the European Commission over the Italian budget for 2019 illustrates a shift in how member states treat the obligations of EU membership. Iain Begg and Kevin Featherstone argue that instead of using pressure from Brussels to justify difficult policy measures, countries are now picking fights with the EU to boost their domestic political standing, thereby […]

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    What if Britain rejoined the EU? Breaking up may be less hard than making up

What if Britain rejoined the EU? Breaking up may be less hard than making up

If Britain ever sought to rejoin the EU, it could not be on the terms of membership the country previously enjoyed, warns Iain Begg. The UK’s budget rebate, exemption from Schengen and opt-outs from the euro and judicial cooperation will not be on the table again. This would make rejoining a difficult sell to the British public.

A curiosity of the […]

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    A paler shade of grey? It is hard to see how any in-between version of Brexit can prevail

A paler shade of grey? It is hard to see how any in-between version of Brexit can prevail

A simple metaphor captures the dilemmas around Brexit: some want white, others want black. To state the blindingly obvious, the two are mutually exclusive. In this post, Iain Begg considers the two logically coherent positions on EU membership. It is hard to see how any in-between solution – any shade of grey – can prevail. 

Leaving the EU means, well, Brexit […]

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    Rethinking the governance of economic and monetary union: Should rules continue to rule?

Rethinking the governance of economic and monetary union: Should rules continue to rule?

Although the EU economy has returned to a period of stable growth since the Eurozone crisis, several key issues in the governance of economic and monetary union remain unresolved. Drawing on results from the Firstrun project, Iain Begg provides an overview of current concerns and outlines five recommendations to help further the debate.

The turbulent times of the last decade […]

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The Brexit-sized hole in the future EU budget

The UK is a net contributor to the EU budget. Following Brexit, the loss of UK contributions will therefore likely require either a reduction in overall spending, or for the remaining member states to pay more into the budget. Iain Begg explains the impact this shortfall might have as the EU seeks to negotiate its next Multi-annual Financial Framework.

Have you ever wondered […]

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    Expect a backlash if the £50bn offer doesn’t move the Brexit negotiations on

Expect a backlash if the £50bn offer doesn’t move the Brexit negotiations on

After threatening to pay nothing to the EU, then conceding £20bn, the UK government has finally indicated it will pay a Brexit ‘divorce bill’ of £40-50bn. The initial reaction from Eurosceptics has been rather muted, writes Iain Begg. But if the European Council does not allow exit negotiations to move to the next stage, we can expect a serious backlash […]

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    The gaffe that keeps on taking: How to break the deadlock over Britain’s EU divorce bill

The gaffe that keeps on taking: How to break the deadlock over Britain’s EU divorce bill

The size of the ‘divorce bill’ the UK will pay following its exit from the EU remains one of the key sticking points in the Brexit negotiations. Iain Begg writes that despite the apparent deadlock over the issue, it would not take much to reach a compromise. He suggests that extending the idea of an implementation phase to the […]

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Is the UK economy starting to falter?

All of a sudden Britain has become the slowest growing of the major western economies, and there are increasing concerns about its medium-term outlook. Iain Begg writes that with both government and opposition fixated on what kind of Brexit to favour, there is a growing risk that fundamental and necessary measures to underpin the economy will be neglected.

Until well after the turn […]

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Reflecting on how to run €MU more effectively

The European Commission published a reflection paper at the end of May on deepening economic and monetary union. Iain Begg assesses the strategy for reform put forward, writing that the paper is relatively guarded and does not convey an explicit trajectory for the next stages of development of EMU governance. He argues that unless and until there is a […]

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    Britain’s got bills – but will it pay? Settling the UK’s EU budget obligations

Britain’s got bills – but will it pay? Settling the UK’s EU budget obligations

Settling the UK’s financial obligations to the EU could cost up to €60bn. Iain Begg explains why the figure is so high, looks at whether there is much scope for negotiation and asks what would happen if Britain simply refused to pay. He argues that the nuclear option of leaving the EU without paying would likely poison the atmosphere around […]

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    What happened to the ‘£350m’ Britain was to take back from the EU?

What happened to the ‘£350m’ Britain was to take back from the EU?

The toxic issue of how much Britain pays into the EU budget is a long way from being settled, writes Iain Begg. None of the pro-Brexit ministers in government now claims that the figure of £350m the UK was supposedly sending to Brussels each week will be available for domestic spending. Indeed, the cost of Brexit to the public finances has […]

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