Foreign Policy Blogs

Superhero Economics

You might think you are reading the synopsis of a comic book, for all the talk of ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’, but instead it's just the newest edition of the Centre for European Reform's (CER) Lisbon Scorecard. Published with smooth regularity ahead of the Union's annual Spring Summit for the eighth consecutive year the report highlights the most effective actors in the Lisbon reform process and castigates the ‘villians,’ those falling short of desired progress. Though the authors praise Europe's overall economic recovery, the team is critical of the complacency that seems to be sneaking in the back door and is already affecting the largest economies in the Union. Continued economic reforms are surely needed in light of what promises to be a year of overall slowing global economic growth, with a weakened dollar and the reverberations of the earlier sub-prime crisis which keeps markets lurching both forward and back.

 To the CER, however, this year's heroes and villains are:

“Austria, which has done well in copying the Nordic model of "flexicurity'; Estonia , a small, nimble newcomer that has moved ahead quickly; and the Netherlands , the only EU country that combines high employment with high productivity. Our "villains' are Greece and Italy, which continue to combine poorly functioning markets with mediocre social outcomes. Some of the new member- states also need to raise their game if they want to cope with competition from emerging Asia.”

Britain leads the ‘brat pack’ of large European economies, given its competitive product markets one of the Union's most flexible labour markets. And while Germany moves up a spot in the ranking, the authors caution that large economies have to keep the reform pressure up, as they still bring in 75% of the Union's GDP. They criticize Germany's over-dependence on exports as much as they do France's low employment rate.

The entire report, compared with earlier versions, gives a well-rounded perspective on whether (or NOT!) the Member States are making good on the lofty ideals once agreed to in Lisbon. Its concrete and factual discussion is surely more than we can expect from the EU Spring Summit next week.



Cathryn Cluver

Cathryn Cluver is a journalist and EU analyst. Now based in Hamburg, Germany, she previously worked at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, Belgium, where she was Deputy Editor of the EU policy journal, Challenge Europe. Prior to that, she was a producer with CNN-International in Atlanta and London. Cathryn graduated from the London School of Economics with a Master's Degree in European Studies and holds a BA with honors from Brown University in International Relations.

Areas of Focus:
Refugees; Immigration; Europe


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