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This special report by the CEPS Macroeconomic Policy Group (MPG) is concerned with the implementation of the prohibition of excessive deficits contained in the Treaty of Maastricht via the Stability and Growth Pact. Specifically, it deals with the controversy that was provoked by the failure of the ECOFIN Council of 25 November 2003, to endorse recommendations of the European Commission to put France and Germany on notice that they had violated the Treaty's prohibition of excessive deficits. The CEPS MPG finds that the core of the dispute arises not so much from the Stability Pact, but from the 3% limit set in the Treaty. It asserts that this clause should not be altered, as argued by many observers, and that it is even more appropriate now that it be enforced than when it was first agreed in 1991, because of the slowdown of potential growth in Europe. To this aim, the report recommends that Commission should be given increased powers, as well as more resources to prepare better budget forecasts.

The CEPS MPG is composed of distinguished economists who have undertaken to carry out independent, in-depth research on current developments in the European economy. The authors of the present report are: Chairman: Daniel Gros, CEPS; Thomas Mayer, Deutsche Bank, London; and Angel Ubide, Tudor Investments, Washington, D.C.

Publisher: Centre for European Policy Studies

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