European Fiscal Compact

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Fiscal Compact
Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union
map of Europe with countries colored blue, green, yellow, red, and gray
Drafted 30 January 2012 (2012-01-30) (treaty finalised)
Signed 2 March 2012 (2012-03-02)[1]
Location Brussels, Belgium
Effective 1 January 2013
Condition Ratified by twelve eurozone states
Signatories 25 EU member states (all except Croatia, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom) including all 18 eurozone states[1]
Ratifiers 25 signatories[2]
Depositary General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
Languages 22 (All EU languages except Croatian & Czech)
Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union at Wikisource

The Fiscal Compact[3][4] (formally, the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union; also referred to as TSCG or more plainly the Fiscal Stability Treaty),[5] is an intergovernmental treaty introduced as a new stricter version of the previous Stability and Growth Pact, signed on 2 March 2012 by all member states of the European Union (EU), except the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom,[1] and Croatia (subsequently acceding the EU in July 2013). The treaty entered into force on 1 January 2013 for the 16 states which completed ratification prior of this date.[6] As of 1 April 2014, it had been ratified and entered into force for all 25 signatories.

While the entire treaty applies to ratifying eurozone states, only Title V, covering euro summit participation, automatically applies for ratifying non-eurozone member states. However, these states can attach a declaration to their instrument of ratification stating their desire to also be bound by the treaty's fiscal provisions (Title III) and/or enhanced economic co-ordination provisions (Title IV).[7] Both Denmark and Romania have declared themselves to be bound by all treaty titles,[8][9] while Bulgaria declared itself bound by all treaty titles except of Title IV.[2][10]

Member states bound by the fiscal provisions of the treaty will face annual fines up to 0.1% of GDP, if they after one year of the Fiscal Compact entering into force for them, have failed to enact a domestic "implementation law" establishing a self-correcting mechanism, guided by surveillance of a governmentally independent fiscal advisory council, which shall guarantee their national budget be in balance or surplus under the treaty's definition. The treaty defines a balanced budget as a general budget deficit not exceeding 3.0% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and a structural deficit not exceeding a country-specific Medium-Term budgetary Objective (MTO) which at most can be set to 0.5% of GDP for states with a debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 60% - or at most 1.0% of GDP for states with debt levels within the 60%-limit. The country-specific MTOs are recalculated every third year and might be set at stricter levels compared to what the treaty allows at most. The treaty also contains a direct copy of the "debt brake" criteria outlined in the Stability and Growth Pact, which defines the rate at which debt levels above the limit of 60% of GDP shall decrease.[11]

If the budget or estimated fiscal account for any ratifying state is found to be noncompliant with the deficit or debt criteria, the state is obliged to rectify the issue. If a state is in breach at the time of the treaty's entry into force, the correction will be deemed to be sufficient if it delivers sufficiently large annual improvements to remain on a country specific predefined "adjustment path" towards the limits at a midterm horizon. Should a state suffer a significant recession, it will be exempted from the requirement to deliver a fiscal correction for as long as it lasts.[7][12]

Despite being an International treaty outside the EU legal framework, all treaty provisions function as an extension to existing EU regulations, utilising the same reporting instruments and organisational structures already created within EU in the three areas: Budget discipline enforced by Stability and Growth Pact (extended by Title III), Coordination of economic policies (extended by Title IV), and Governance within the EMU (extended by Title V).[11] The treaty states that the signatories shall attempt to incorporate the Fiscal Compact into the EU's legal framework, on the basis of an assessment of the experience with its implementation, by 1 January 2018 at the latest.[7]

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Monetary policy in the Eurozone (the EU countries which have adopted the Euro) is determined by the European Central Bank (ECB). Thus the setting of central bank interest rates and monetary easing is in the sole domain of the ECB, while taxation and government expenditure remain mostly under the control of national governments, within the balanced budget limits imposed by the Stability and Growth Pact. The EU has a monetary union but not a fiscal union.

In October 2007, then ECB president, Jean-Claude Trichet, emphasised the need for the European Union (EU) to pursue further economic and financial integration within certain areas (amongst others labour mobility and flexibility and reaching retail banking convergence). If these fiscal policies were adhered to by all member states, the ECB believed that this would increase their competitiveness.[13] In June 2009, recommendations were published by The Economist magazine and the International Monetary Fund which suggested that Europe establish a fiscal union comprising a: Bailout fund, banking union, mechanism to ensure the same prudent fiscal and economic policies were pursued equally by all states, and common issuance of eurobonds.[14] Angel Ubide from the Peterson Institute for International Economics joined this view, suggesting that long term stability in the eurozone required a common fiscal policy rather than controls on portfolio investment.[15]

Response to the sovereign debt crisis[edit]

Further information: European sovereign-debt crisis

Starting from early 2010, the proposal to create a much greater fiscal union, at least in the eurozone, was considered by many[vague] to be either the natural next step in European integration, or a necessary solution to the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis.[16][17] Combined with the EMU, a fiscal union would, according to the authors of the Blueprint report, lead to much greater economic integration. However, the process of building a fiscal union is envisaged by them to be a long-term project. The presidents of the ECB, Commission, Council and Eurogroup published a blueprint for a deep and genuine EMU in November 2012, outlining the elements of a fiscal union which could be achieved in the short, medium and long-term. For the short term (0–18 months), only proposals within the existing competences of the EU treaties were considered, while more wide-reaching proposals requiring treaty amendments were only considered for longer time frames.[18]

The blueprint report mentioned that the potential introduction of a common issuance of eurobills with 1-year maturity could be implemented in the medium term (18 months – 5 years ahead), while eurobonds with 10-year maturity could be implemented as the final step in the long-term (more than 5 years ahead). According to the authors of the Blueprint report, each step the EU take towards the sharing of common debt, the first of which is envisaged to include joint guarantees for debt repayment in conjunction with either a "debt redemption fund for excessive debt" or "issuance of some short-term eurobills", will need to be accompanied by increased coordination and harmonization of fiscal and economic policies in the eurozone. As such, the two reforms of the Stability and Growth Pact known as the sixpack (which entered into force December 2011) and twopack (planned entry into force in summer 2013), and the European Fiscal Compact (a treaty which largely mirrors these two EU reforms),[citation needed] represents, according to the authors of the Blueprint report, the first step towards the increased sharing and adherence to the same fiscal rules and economic policies, which they argue potentially paves the way for ratification in the medium term of a new EU treaty allowing for the common issuance of eurobills.[18]

Proposal development: Sixpack, Twopack and Fiscal Compact[edit]

In March 2010, Germany presented a series of proposals to address the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis. They emphasised that the intention was not to establish a fiscal union in the short term, but to make the monetary union more resilient to crisis. They argued that the previous Stability and Growth Pact needed to be reformed to become more strict and efficient, and in return a European emergency bailout fund should be founded to assist states in financial difficulties, with bailout payments available under strict corrective fiscal action agreements – subject to approval by the ECB and Eurogroup. In case a non-collaborating state with an Excessive Deficit Procedure breached the called for adjustment path towards compliance, it should risk being fined or lose its payment of EU cohesion funds and/or lose its political voting rights in the Eurogroup. A call was also made to enforce the Coordination of economic policies between eurozone members, so that all states take an active part in each other’s policymaking.[19][20] Throughout the following three years, these German proposals materialised into new European agreements or regulations after negotiations with the other EU member states.

The envisaged emergency bailout fund European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) was the first proposal to become agreed to by the EU member states on 9 May 2010,[21] with the facility being fully operational on 4 August 2010.[22]

As a part of the proposed reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, Germany also presented a proposal in May 2010 that all Eurozone states should be obliged to adopt a balanced budget framework law into its national legislation, preferably at the constitutional level, with the purpose of guaranteeing future compliance with the pacts promise of having a clear cap on new debt, strict budgetary discipline and balanced budgets. Implementation of the proposed debt brake was by-itself envisaged to imply much tighter fiscal discipline compared to the existing EU rules requiring deficits not to exceed 3% of GDP.[23] This proposal was later adopted as part of both the Fiscal Compact and Twopack regulations.

In late 2010, proposals were made to reform some rules of the Stability and Growth Pact to strengthen fiscal policy co-ordination.[24] In February 2011, France and Germany had proposed the 'Competitiveness Pact' to strengthen economic co-ordination in the eurozone.[25] Spain also endorsed the proposed pact.[26] German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also verbally championed the idea of a fiscal union,[27][28] as have various incumbent European finance ministers and the head of the European Central Bank.[29][30]

In March 2011, a new reform of the Stability and Growth Pact was initiated, aiming at strengthening the rules by adopting an automatic procedure for imposing penalties in case of breaches of either the deficit or the debt rules.[31][32]

By the end of 2011, Germany, France and some other smaller EU countries went a step further and vowed to create a fiscal union across the eurozone with strict and enforceable fiscal rules and automatic penalties embedded in the EU treaties.[33][34] German chancellor Angela Merkel also insisted that the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union must play an "important role" in ensuring that countries meet their obligations.[33]

In that perspective, strong European Commission "oversight in the fields of taxation and budgetary policy and the enforcement mechanisms that go with it could further infringe upon the sovereignty of eurozone member states". Think-tanks such as the World Pensions Council (WPC) have argued that a profound revision of the Lisbon Treaty would be unavoidable if Germany were to succeed in imposing its economic views, as stringent orthodoxy across the budgetary, fiscal and regulatory fronts would necessarily go beyond the treaty in its current form, thus further reducing the individual prerogatives of national governments.[35][36][37]

Negotiations[edit]

On 9 December 2011 at the European Council meeting, all 17 members of the eurozone agreed on the basic outlines of a new intergovernmental treaty to put strict caps on government spending and borrowing, with penalties for those countries who violate the limits.[38][39] All other non-eurozone countries except the United Kingdom said they were also prepared to join in, subject to parliamentary vote.[40] Originally EU leaders planned to change existing EU treaties but this was blocked by British prime minister David Cameron, who demanded that the City of London be excluded from future financial regulations, including the proposed EU financial transaction tax,[34][41] thus a separate treaty was then envisaged, outside the formal EU institutions, as it had been with the first Schengen treaty in 1985.

On 30 January 2012 after several weeks of negotiations, all EU leaders except those from United Kingdom and Czech Republic endorsed the final version of the fiscal pact at the European summit in Brussels,[42] though the treaty was left open to accession by any EU member state and Czech prime minister Petr Nečas said his country may join in the future.[43] The treaty only becomes binding on the non-eurozone signatory states after they adopt the euro as their currency, unless they declare their intention to be bound by part, or all, of the treaty at an earlier date.[44] The new treaty was signed on 2 March and will come into force on 1 January 2013, if it has been ratified (which requires the approval of national parliaments) by at least 12 countries that use the euro. Ireland held a referendum on the treaty on 31 May 2012, which was approved by 60.3%.[45]

EU countries that signed the agreement will have to ratify it by 1 January 2013. Once a country has ratified the Treaty it has another year, until 1 January 2014, to implement a balanced budget rule in their binding legislation.[46] Only countries with such rule in their legal code by 1 March 2013 will be eligible to apply for bailout money from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).[46]

Although the European Fiscal Compact was negotiated between 25 of the then 27 member states of the EU, it is not formally part of European Union law. It does, however, contain a provision to attempt to incorporate the pact into the Treaties establishing the European Union within five years of its entering into force.[43]

Content[edit]

The treaty is divided into 6 titles. The first explains that the aim of the treaty is to "strengthen the economic pillar of the economic and monetary union" and that the treaty should be fully binding on Eurozone countries. Title II defines its relation to EU laws and the Treaties of the European Union, applying the Fiscal Compact only "insofar as it is compatible". Title VI contains the final clauses regarding ratification and entry into force.

Three Titles (III-V) contain rules regarding fiscal discipline, coordination and governance.

Title III - Fiscal Compact[edit]

  • Balanced budget rule: General government budgets shall be "balanced" or in surplus. The treaty defines a balanced budget as a general budget deficit not exceeding 3.0% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and a structural deficit not exceeding a country-specific Medium-Term budgetary Objective (MTO) which at most can be set to 0.5% of GDP for states with a debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 60% - or at most 1.0% of GDP for states with debt levels within the 60%-limit. The country-specific MTOs are recalculated every third year, and might be set at stricter levels compared to what the treaty allows at most.
    The rule is based upon the existing Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) deficit rule, where the concept of country-specific MTOs was integrated into the preventive arm of the pact in 2005, with an upper limit for structural deficits at 1.0% of GDP applying to all eurozone and ERM-II member states. The novelty of the Fiscal Compact, was to introduce a varying upper limit which depends on the debt-level of the state. When comparing the Fiscal Compact's new MTO rule with the applying country-specific SGP MTOs in 2012, it can be concluded that if the fiscal provisions of the treaty had applied immediately towards all EU member states, then only Hungary and the UK would have been required to introduce a stricter MTO (revising it down to 0.5% of GDP) - as a consequence.[47]
    As per the already applying Stability and Growth Pact, Member States with a fiscal balance not yet at their MTO, are required to ensure rapid convergence towards it, with the time-frame for this "adjustment path" being outlined by the Council on basis of a European Commission proposal taking the country-specific sustainability risks into consideration.
  • Debt brake rule: Member States whose government debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds the 60% reference level in the latest recorded fiscal year, shall reduce it at an average rate of at least one twentieth (5%) per year of the exceeded percentage points, where the calculated average period shall be either the 3-year period covering the latest fiscal year and forecasts for the current and next year, or the latest three fiscal years. Rising debt levels for both of the rolling 3-year periods, are allowed for as long as the debt-to-GDP ratio of the state does not exceed 60% in the latest recorded fiscal year. If the European Commission had decided the interim values in the 3-year periods should have no direct influence on the reduction requirement at the end point of the period, then the formula would have been quite simple (i.e. for a debt-to-GDP ratio recorded to be 80% by the end of the year preceding the latest fiscal year, then it should for the period covering the latest fiscal year and the subsequent forecast two years decline with at least: 1/20 * 20% = 1.0 percentage point per year, resulting in a limit of 77.0% three years later). As the European Commission decided interim values in the 3-year periods also should impact the final debt reduction requirement, they came up with this slightly more complicated benchmark calculation formula:
    • bbt = 60% + 0.95*(bt-1-60%)/3 + 0.952*(bt-2-60%)/3 + 0.953*(bt-3-60%)/3. The bb-value is the calculated benchmark limit for year t, and the formula feature three t-year-indexes for backwards-checking. When checking forwards, the same formula is applied, just with all the t-year-indexes being pushed two years forward: bbt+2 = 60% + 0.95*(bt+1-60%)/3 + 0.952*(bt-60%)/3 + 0.953*(bt-1-60%)/3. The year referred to as t in the listed backward-looking and forward-looking formula, is always the latest fiscal year with available recorded data. In example, a backward-check conducted in 2014 will always check whether the recorded 2013 debt-to-GDP ratio respected the 2013 debt reduction benchmark calculated on basis of recorded debt-to-GDP ratio data from 2010+2011+2012, while the forward-looking check will be all about whether the forecast 2015-data will respect the 2015 debt reduction benchmark calculated on basis of debt-to-GDP ratio data for 2012+2013+2014. It shall be noted, that whenever a b input-value (debt-to-GDP ratio) is recorded/forecast below 60%, its data-input shall be replaced by a fictive 60% value in the formula. Beside of the backward-looking and forward-looking debt-brake compliance check, a third cyclically adjusted backward-looking debt-brake check (same backward-looking formula applied, but now checking if the cyclically adjusted debt-to-GDP ratio respects the calculated benchmark-limit), also form part of the assessment whether or not the state is in abeyance with the debt-criterion.[48][49]
Formula used to calculate the
cyclically adjusted debt-to-GDP ratio
for year t:[49]
0
Bt + Ct + Ct-1 + Ct-2
b*t =

Yt-3 * (1 + Ypott)(1 + Pt) * (1 + Ypott-1)(1 + Pt-1) * (1 + Ypott-2)(1 + Pt-2)
000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
  • Bt stands for consolidated nominal gross debt of the general government in year t.
  • Ct stands for the consolidated nominal gross debt generated by the cyclical component of the general government budget balance in year t (note: As the linked AMECO data series for Ct only display this figure as a percentage of 2010 potential GDP at current prices, it shall of course be recalculated back to its nominal figure by multiplying it with the 2010 potential GDP).
  • Yt stands for nominal GDP at current market prices in year t.
  • Ypott stands for potential growth rate in year t (table 13 in source).
  • Pt stands for the GDP price deflator rate in year t (table 15 in source).
If just one of the four quantitative debt-requirements (including the first one requesting the debt-to-GDP ratio to be below 60% in the latest recorded fiscal year) is complied with: bt \scriptscriptstyle\leq 60% or bt \scriptscriptstyle\leq bbt or b*t \scriptscriptstyle\leq bbt or bt+2 \scriptscriptstyle\leq bbt+2, then a state will be declared to be in abeyance with the debt brake rule. Otherwise the Commission will declare a breach of the debt-criterion by the publication of a 126(3) report, and provided no special "breach exemptions" can be found to exist by this report (i.e. finding the debt breach was solely caused by "structural improving pension reforms" or "payment of bailout funds to financial stability mechanisms" or "payment of national funds to the new European Fund for Strategic Investments" or "appearance of an EU-wide recession"), then the Commission will recommend the Council to open up a debt-breached EDP against the state by the publication of a 126(6) report. The concept of the Fiscal Compact, however, is that national legislation instead shall ensure an automatic correction will be implemented immediately when such a potential 126(6) situation is detected, so that the state can manage automatically to correct it in advance, and hereby avoid the Council will ever decide to open up a 126(6) debt-breached EDP against the state.[48][49]
The above outlined debt brake rule, already entered into force at the EU level on 13 December 2011, as part of the amendment of EU Regulation 1467/97 introduced by the sixpack reform. As it is also an essential part of the Fiscal Compact, the signatories are encouraged to refer to EU Regulation 1467/97 when they implement the rule into domestic law. For transitional reasons, the regulation granted all 23 EU Member States with an ongoing EDP in November 2011, a 3-year exemption period to comply with the rule, which will start in the year when the member state have its 2011-EDP abrogated.[50] For example, Ireland will only be obliged to comply with the new debt brake rule in 2019, if they, as expected, manage to correct their EDP in fiscal year 2015 - with the formal EDP abrogation then taking place in 2016.[51] During the years where the 23 member states are exempted from complying with the new debt brake rule, they are still obliged to comply with the old debt brake rule that requires the debt-to-GDP ratios in excess of 60% to be "sufficiently diminished",[50] meaning that it must approach the 60% reference value at a "satisfactory pace" ensuring it will succeed to meet the debt reduction requirement of the new debt brake rule three years after its EDP is abrogated. This special transitional "satisfactory pace" is calculated by the Commission individually for each of the concerned states, and is published to them in form of a figure for: The annually required Minimum Linear Structural Adjustment (MLSA) of the deficit in each of the 3 years in the transition period - ensuring the compliance with the new debt brake rule by the end of the transition period.[49][52]
  • Automatic correction mechanism: If it becomes clear that the fiscal reality does not comply with the "balanced budget rule", which is the case when a significant deviation from the MTO or the adjustment path towards is observed, an automatic correction mechanism should be triggered. The exact implementation of this mechanism will be defined individually by each Member State, but it has to comply with the basic principles outlined in a directive published by the European Commission. This directive was published in June 2012, and outlined common principles for the role and independence of institutions (such as a Fiscal Advisory Council) responsible at the national level for monitoring the observance of the rules, which is one of the key elements to ensure that the "automatic correction mechanism" will actually work. The directive also outlined the nature, size and time-frame of the corrective action to be undertaken under normal circumstances, and how to undertake corrections for states subject to "exceptional circumstances".[12]
    • Correction of deficit deviations: If a significant deviation (more than 0.5% of GDP) from the MTO or the adjustment path towards it, is observed on basis of an overall assessment with the structural balance as a reference (including analysis of the "expenditure benchmark"), the automatic correction mechanism shall immediately correct the situation through implementation of counter measures being effective after a short period of time, unless the deviation has been caused by "extraordinary events outside control of the Member State" or the arrival of a "severe economic downturn". If a Member State ahead of the entry into force of this treaty, had a structural deficit in excess of its MTO, such state will not be required immediately to correct this down to its MTO-limit, but must comply with the "adjustment path" towards reaching their country-specific MTO, as outlined in its latest Stability/Convergence report - which is subject to approval by the European Commission and published annually in April. The adjustment path towards reaching a MTO shall at minimum entail annual structural deficit improvements of 0.5% of GDP. The MTO depicts the maximum average structural deficit per year the country can afford for the medium-term, when targeting that the debt-to-GDP ratios shall be maintained below 60% throughout the next fifty years, which mean it might - due to presence of age-related demographic dividends - imply that some states are required to impose stricter surplus MTOs through decades where the pensioned elderly represents a low percentage of the population (so that the state can conduct early continuous savings to meet the challenge of increased age-related costs in some future decades) - followed by some less strict deficit MTOs through the decades where the opposite is the case.[47][53]
  • Economic Partnership Programmes: Member States having an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) opened up after the treaty enters into force, shall submit to the Commission and the Council an Economic Partnership Programme (EPP) for endorsement, detailing the necessary structural reforms to ensure an effective and durable correction of their excessive deficit. This shall be done a few weeks after the EDP has been notified by a 126(6) report. If the granted EDP-deadline for correction subsequently gets extended, the state will at the same time be required to submit a new updated programme. The implementation of the programme, and the yearly budgetary plans consistent with it, are monitored not only by the state's Fiscal Advisory Council established by the treaty, but also by the Commission and the Council. The main instrument utilized for monitoring whether the state comply with its programme, is the National Reform Programme report, being submitted to the Commission each year in April. If a state under EDP at the same time benefit from a sovereign bailout programme, it shall not submit an EPP, as their content already will be covered by the conditional Economic Adjustment Programme report. The EAP report is updated at regular intervals, and payment of the next bailout tranches will only be conducted if it conclude the state is still in ongoing compliance with its conditional programme.
  • Debt issuance coordination: For the purpose to better coordinating the planning of national debt issuance between Member States, each state shall submit its public debt issuance plans in advance to the European Commission and Council of the EU.
  • Commitment always to support EDP recommendations: This provision only apply for eurozone states, which shall be committed when meeting in the Council format, always to support approval of the EDP related proposals or recommendations submitted by the European Commission. However, this obligation shall not apply if a qualified majority of the eurozone states are opposed to the proposed or recommended decision.
  • Embedding the "Balanced budget rule" and "Automatic correction mechanism" into domestic law: The Balanced budget rule and Automatic correction mechanism shall be embedded in the national legal system of each state at the statutory level or higher, no later than 12 months after the treaty entered into force for the state. The European Commission is responsible for monitoring this, and shall submit an evaluation report - which has been scheduled to happen for the first time by mid-2015.[54] If any state legally bound by the fiscal provisions (Title III of the treaty) is reported to have a non-compliant implementation law, or if any ratifying state believes another states implementation law is non-compliant after the deadline for compliance, then the Court of Justice can be asked to judge the case, and in the event of finding support for the claim it will submit an enforcement ruling setting a final deadline for compliance. If the non-compliance continues after expiry of the new extended deadline ruled by the Court of Justice, then it can impose a penalty of up to 0.1% of GDP against the concerned state. The fine goes to the ESM if a eurozone state is fined, or to the general EU budget if a non-eurozone state is fined.

Title IV - Economic policy co-ordination and convergence[edit]

  • Coordination of policies improving competitiveness, employment, public fiscal sustainability and financial stability: All states bound by this provision shall "work jointly towards an economic policy that fosters the proper functioning of the economic and monetary union and economic growth through enhanced convergence and competitiveness". To this end, each state is required to "take the necessary actions and measures in all the areas which are essential to the proper functioning of the euro area in pursuit of the objectives of fostering competitiveness, promoting employment, contributing further to the sustainability of public finances and reinforcing financial stability".
  • Coordination and debate of economic reform plans: For the purpose of working towards a more closely coordinated economic policy, all major economic policy reforms a member state plans, shall be discussed ex-ante and – where appropriate – coordinated among all states bound by Title IV. Any such coordination shall involve the institutions of the European Union. As such, this rule can be argued to be similar to the commitments in the Euro Plus Pact.[55][citation needed]
  • Enhanced fiscal coordination and enhanced cooperation: Contracting parties are committed "to make active use whenever appropriate and necessary" of two additional instruments: 1) "Measures specific to those Member States whose currency is the euro, as provided for in article 136 of the TFEU" (which relates to the already existing enhanced and more strict Stability and Growth Pact regulations applying only for Eurozone member states, as well as adoption of the part of the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines which concern the eurozone generally and only apply for Eurozone member states - based on article 121(2) of the TFEU), and 2) "Enhanced cooperation, as provided for by the existing article 20 in the Treaty on European Union...on matters that are essential for the proper functioning of the euro area without undermining the internal market".

Title V - Governance of the Eurozone[edit]

  • Meetings for policy governance: Title V of the treaty provides for Euro summits to take place at least twice a year, chaired by the President of the Euro summit to be appointed by Eurozone countries for a term that runs concurrent to the term of the President of the European Council. The meeting members include all heads of state from the Eurozone and the President of the European Commission, while the President of the European Central Bank is also invited. Agendas for the summits are limited to "questions relating to the specific responsibilities which the Contracting Parties whose currency is the euro share with regard to the single currency, other issues concerning the governance of the euro area and the rules that apply to it, and strategic orientations for the conduct of economic policies to increase convergence in the euro area." All heads of state from non-eurozone states which have ratified the treaty are also invited to take part in the meetings for agenda items related to "competitiveness for the Contracting Parties, the modification of the global architecture of the euro area and the fundamental rules that will apply to it in the future, as well as, when appropriate and at least once a year, in discussions on specific issues of implementation of this Treaty". The Eurogroup has been tasked with preparing and conducting the follow up work between Euro summit meetings, and for that purpose the President of the Eurogroup may also be invited to attend the summits.

The Fiscal Compact supplements pre-existing EU regulations for the Stability and Growth Pact (extended by Title III), coordination of economic policies (extended by Title IV), and governance within the EMU (Title V formalises a regulation for the existing Euro summit meetings of Eurozone members). Finally a tie exists to the European Stability Mechanism, which requires its Member States to have ratified and implemented the Fiscal Compact into national law as a pre-condition for receiving financial support.

Stability and Growth Pact regulation[edit]

The fiscal provisions introduced by the Fiscal Compact treaty (for those states legally bound by these measures) function as an extension to the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) regulation. The SGP regulation applies to all EU member states, and has been designed to ensure that each state's annual budgetary plans are compliant with the SGP's limits for deficit and debt (or debt reduction). Compliance is monitored by the European Commission and by the Council. As soon as a Member State is considered to breach the 3% budget deficit ceiling or does not comply with the debt-level rules, the Commission initiates an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) and submits a proposal for counter-measures for the member state to correct the situation. The counter measures will only be outlined in general, identifying the size and the time-frame of the needed corrective action to be undertaken, while taking into consideration country-specific risks for fiscal sustainability. Progress towards and respect of each specific state's Medium-Term budgetary Objective (MTO) shall be evaluated on the basis of an overall assessment with the structural balance as a reference, including an analysis of expenditure net of discretionary revenue measures. If a eurozone member state repeatedly breaches its "adjustment path" towards respecting the state's MTO and the fiscal limits outlined by the SGP, then the Commission may fine the state a percentage of its GDP. Such fines can only be rejected if the Council subsequently votes against the fine with a qualified 2/3 majority. EU member states outside the eurozone cannot be fined for breaches of the fiscal rules.

Ratification and implementation[edit]

In December 2012, Finland became the twelfth eurozone state to ratify the treaty, thus triggering its entry into force on 1 January 2013. For subsequent ratifiers, entry into force is on the first day of the month following their deposit of the instrument of ratification. Slovakia became a party to the treaty on 1 February 2013, as did Hungary, Luxembourg and Sweden on 1 June 2013, Malta on 1 July 2013, Poland on 1 September 2013, the Netherlands on 1 November 2013, Bulgaria on 1 February 2014 and the last signatory Belgium on 1 April 2014.[2] The non-eurozone countries Denmark and Romania have declared themselves to be bound in full,[8][9] while Bulgaria declared itself bound by Title III.[2][10] Latvia became bound by the fiscal provision on 1 January 2014 when it adopted the euro.[56]

The ratification processes is summarised in the table below. 23 countries submitted laws for ratification of the treaty according to a standard parliamentary ratification procedure. In Cyprus, ratification was performed by a governmental decree without involving the parliament. In Ireland, a referendum was held to approve a constitutional amendment that empowered the government to ratify the treaty.

State Signed Conclusion
date
Institution Majority
needed[57][58]
In favour Against AB Deposited[2] Ref.
 Austria[a] Yes 4 Jul 2012 Federal Council 50% 103 60 0 30 Jul 2012 [59]
6 Jul 2012 National Council 50% 42 13 0 [60]
17 Jul 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [61]
 Belgium[a] Yes 23 May 2013 Senate 50% 49 9 2 28 March 2014 [62]
20 Jun 2013 Chamber of Representatives 50% 111 23 0 [63]
18 Jul 2013 Royal Assent (Federal law) Granted [62]
20 Dec 2013
Walloon
Parliament
(regional)
(community)
50% 54 0 1 [64][65]
50% 54 0 1 [66]
14 Oct 2013 German-speaking Community 50% 19 5 0 [67][68]
21 Dec 2013 French Community 50% 66 1 1 [69]
20 Dec 2013 Brussels Regional Parliament 50% 62 10 2 [70][71]
20 Dec 2013
Brussels United
Assembly
[b]
(FR language)
(NL language)
50% 54 3 1 [73]
50% 9 7 0 [73]
19 Dec 2012
Flemish
Parliament
(regional)
(community)
50% 62 0 0 [74]
50% 64 0 0 [74]
20 Dec 2013 COCOF Assembly 50% 56 3 1 [75][76]
 Bulgaria[c] Yes 28 Nov 2013 National Assembly 50% 109 0 5 14 Jan 2014 [77][78][79]
3 Dec 2013 Presidential Assent Granted [80]
 Czech Republic No Chamber of Deputies 60%[d] [81]
27 Aug 2014 Senate 60%[d] 58 10 5 [83]
Presidential Assent - [81]
 Cyprus[a] Yes 20 Apr 2012 Council of Ministers Approved 26 Jul 2012 [58]
29 Jun 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [84]
 Denmark[e] Yes 31 May 2012 Folketing 50% 80 27 0 19 Jul 2012 [85]
18 Jun 2012 Royal Assent Granted [86]
 Estonia[a] Yes 17 Oct 2012 Riigikogu 50% 63 0 0 5 Dec 2012 [87]
5 Nov 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [88]
 Finland[a] Yes 18 Dec 2012 Parliament 50% 139 38 1 21 Dec 2012 [89][90]
21 Dec 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [91]
 France[a] Yes 11 Oct 2012 Senate 50%[f] 307 (91%) 32 (9%) 8 26 Nov 2012 [93][94]
9 Oct 2012 National Assembly 50%[f] 477 (87%) 70 (13%) 21 [95]
22 Oct 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [96]
 Germany[a] Yes 29 Jun 2012 Bundesrat 66.7% 65 0 4 27 Sep 2012 [97]
29 Jun 2012 Bundestag 66.7% 491 111 6 [98]
13 Sep 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [99]
 Greece[a] Yes 28 Mar 2012 Parliament 50% 194 59 0 10 May 2012 [100]
 Hungary Yes 25 Mar 2013 National Assembly 66.7% 307 32 13 15 May 2013 [101]
29 Mar 2013 Presidential Assent Granted [101]
 Ireland[a] Yes 20 Apr 2012 Dáil 50% 93 21 N/A 14 Dec 2012 [102]
24 Apr 2012 Senate 50% Approved [103]
31 May 2012 Referendum 50% 60.3% 39.7% N/A [104][105]
27 Jun 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [106][107]
 Italy[a] Yes 12 Jul 2012 Senate 66.7% 216 24 21 14 Sep 2012 [108]
19 Jul 2012 Chamber of Deputies 66.7% 368 65 65 [109]
23 Jul 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [110]
 Latvia[a] Yes 31 May 2012 Parliament 66.7%[g] 67 (69%) 29 (30%) 1 (1%) 22 Jun 2012 [111][112]
13 Jun 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [113][114]
 Lithuania Yes 28 Jun 2012 Seimas 50% and
min. 57 yes votes
80 11 21 6 Sep 2012 [115]
4 Jul 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [116]
 Luxembourg[a] Yes 27 Feb 2013 Chamber of Deputies 66.7%[h] 46 10 0 8 May 2013 [119]
29 Mar 2013 Grand Ducal Assent Granted [120]
 Malta[a] Yes 11 Jun 2013 House of Representatives 50%[121] Unanimously 28 Jun 2013 [122]
 Netherlands[a] Yes 25 Jun 2013 Senate 50% Approved without vote[i] 8 Oct 2013 [123]
26 Mar 2013 House of Representatives 50% 112 33 0 [124][125]
26 Jun 2013 Royal Assent Granted [126]
 Poland Yes 20 Feb 2013 Sejm 50%[j] 282 155 1 8 Aug 2013 [127]
21 Feb 2013 Senate 50%[j] 57 26 0 [129]
24 Jul 2013 Presidential Assent Granted [130]
 Portugal[a] Yes 13 Apr 2012 Assembly 50% 204 24 2 5 Jul 2012 [131][132]
27 Jun 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [133][134]
 Romania[e] Yes 21 May 2012 Senate 50%[k] 89 1 0 6 Nov 2012 [136]
8 May 2012 House of Representatives 50%[k] 237 0 2 [137]
13 Jun 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [138][139]
 Slovakia[a] Yes 18 Dec 2012 National Council 50%
(absolute)
min.76 yes votes
[l]
138 0 2 17 Jan 2013 [142]
11 Jan 2013 Presidential Assent Granted [143]
 Slovenia[a] Yes 19 Apr 2012 National Assembly 50% 74 0 2 30 May 2012 [144]
30 Apr 2012 Presidential Assent Granted [145]
 Spain[a] Yes 18 Jul 2012 Senate 50% 240 4 1 27 Sep 2012 [146]
21 Jun 2012 Congress of Deputies 50% 309 19 1 [147]
25 Jul 2012 Royal Assent Granted [148]
 Sweden Yes 7 Mar 2013 Riksdagen 50% 251 23 37 3 May 2013 [149]
= Eurozone parties bound by all treaty provisions
= Non-eurozone parties bound by all treaty provisions
= Non-eurozone parties bound by all fiscal provisions but none of the economic provisions
= Non-eurozone parties not bound by any of the fiscal or economic provisions
= Non-eurozone states not party to the treaty
Notes
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Eurozone member state.
  2. ^ Approval of the Brussels United Assembly is subject to an absolute majority of both language groups of the parliament (French and Dutch) voting in favour. Failing that, a second vote can be held where only one third of each language group, and a majority of the full house, is required for adoption.[72]
  3. ^ Non-eurozone state which has declared itself to be bound by Title III prior to its adoption of the euro.[2][10]
  4. ^ a b Needs the approval of a constitutional majority.[82]
  5. ^ a b Non-eurozone state which has declared itself to be fully bound by the treaty prior to its adoption of the euro.[2][8][9] Denmark declared that it didn't consider that ratification constituted an obligation with regard to other EU instruments[8]
  6. ^ a b The French constitutional court ruled that a constitutional amendment was not required to ratify the treaty, meaning that the French parliament could approve it with a simple majority.[92]
  7. ^ A vote with 2/3 constitutional majority of present MPs was needed, as the treaty delegated a part of the national competencies to International institutions.[111]
  8. ^ The Council of State of Luxembourg advised the parliament that even though the treaty's ratification did not require any changes to the constitution, it should still be approved by a 2/3 majority in parliament, as new powers – related to the validity check of enacted "implementation laws" – were transferred from the national level to the Commission and Court of Justice of the European Union.[117] The responsible parliamentary Committee for Finances and the Budget decided in line with the Council of State's advice for a 2/3 majority for reasons of legal certainty of the law.[118]
  9. ^ It was formally noted (Dutch: Aantekening verleend) that the SP (8 of the 75 seats) would have voted against the proposal, had there been a vote.
  10. ^ a b As none of the Fiscal Compact provisions result in transfer of state authority competence to international organisations (EU) or international institutions (EU institutions), while the implementation into national law is possible without changing the Polish constitution, the ratification will only requirer a passing by simple majority in both chambers of the parliament.[128]
  11. ^ a b The constitution requires all EU treaties to be passed with a two-thirds absolute majority in a joint session by the Senate and House of Representatives. As the Fiscal Compact was an intergovernmental treaty without provisions requirering a change of the constitution, it was however sufficient to ratify the treaty by votes with simple majority, in both chambers.[135]
  12. ^ According to the Slovakian procedural evaluation report, the treaty was voted for according to §86d and had been evaluated to be a §7(4) treaty.[140] Hence, as regulated by the Slovakian constitution §84(3), it only called for a 50% majority of parliament members to get passed.[141]

Non-signatory EU members[edit]

Any non-signatory EU member state may accede to the Fiscal Compact without prior negotiations.

  • Croatia: With their accession to the EU on 1 July 2013, Croatia became eligible to accede to the Fiscal Compact.
  • United Kingdom: UK refused to sign the Fiscal Compact and future joining is not under consideration.
  • Czech Republic: The Czech government did not sign the treaty,[42] in part due to objections to the increased liabilities and that non-eurozone states were not granted observer status at all Eurogroup and Euro-summit meetings.[150] Then Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas also argued that there was no moral obligation for net-paying, fiscally sound countries outside the Eurozone, such as the Czech Republic, to ratify the fiscal responsibility treaty.[150] There was also uncertainty over the domestic ratification process, with then President Vaclav Klaus, a staunch eurosceptic, stating that he would not give his assent to the treaty.[151] However, Nečas stated that his country may join in the future.[43] During the treaty negotiations, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which Nečas led, suggested that a referendum should decide whether the country ratified the treaty, while their junior coalition partner, TOP 09, opposed the idea and wanted only parliamentary approval for the treaty.[152]
In January 2013, Top 09 stated that they would only sign a revised coalition agreement for the remainder of the government's term if its partners, ODS and LIDEM, agreed to accede to the fiscal compact by the end of 2013.[153] ODS rejected this ultimatum and stated that a constitutional amendment implementing the Fiscal Compact's debt and deficit provisions should be approved before ratifying the Fiscal Compact.[154][155] Negotiations between the government and opposition to pass this proposed constitutional amendment, which will require a 3/5 majority, started in February 2013.[156] The opposition Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) announced that they would support the Financial Constitution on 5 conditions, one of which was the ratification of the Fiscal Compact,[157] and a bipartisan working group, with representation from all parliamentary parties, was established on 13 March 2013 to draft the proposed amendments.[158] After Jiří Rusnok took over as caretaker Prime Minister following a government corruption scandal, he stated that a decision on the Czech Republic ratifying the Fiscal Compact would not be made until after parliamentary elections scheduled for October.[159]
President Miloš Zeman, who took over in March 2013 after winning the January presidential election, is considered to be "pro-EU"[160] and supports the Czech Republic's accession to the Fiscal Compact, although not before they join the Eurozone, which he believes shouldn't occur before 2017.[161][162] Following the parliamentary election, ČSSD, ANO and KDU-ČSL formed a coalition government which agreed to ratify the Fiscal Compact.[155][163][164][165] ČSSD Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka supports ratifying the treaty,[166][167] and his party has opposed holding a referendum on it.[152][168] The opposition Top 09 party's election campaign called for parliamentary ratification of the Fiscal Compact as soon as possible.[169] In late February 2014, Sobotka's government obtained the confidence of Parliament, and committed to starting the ratification of the Fiscal Compact within two months.[170][171][172] Sobotka expects that ratification will be finalized within eight months.[173] He notified the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso of these plans during his first visit to Brussels as Prime Minister.[171][174] The cabinet approved accession to the Fiscal Compact on 23 March 2014,[82][175] and the bill was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies on 11 April.[81] It will need the consent of a constitutional majority of 60% in both houses of parliament. Approval of the bill will lead to accession of the Czech Republic to the Fiscal Compact, but initially only Title V will apply as they will not make a declaration.[82][176]

Ratification process[edit]

After a country has completed its domestic ratification, it must deposit an instrument of ratification with the depositary (the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union) to complete the process. If a legal complaint is filed with a constitutional court, this can delay the deposit and ratification, or even stop it if the court upholds the complaint. The list below summarises the progress of the ratification process.

  • Belgium: The treaty needed the approval of the Belgium's upper and lower house as well as five other parliaments for ratification. On 14 March 2012 a motion was submitted to the Chamber of Representatives by members of the opposition calling for a referendum on the treaty.[177] A similar motion was submitted to the Senate on 9 May,[178] but a referendum was ultimately not held.
  • Germany: Ratification was stalled following a complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court on the consistency of the Fiscal Compact with the German Basic Law. However, on 12 September 2012 the court rejected all applications for injunctions against ratification of the treaty.[183] The court heard oral arguments on the merits of the case on 11–12 June 2013,[184][185] with a final decision originally expected in the fall of 2013 but later pushed back to 2014.[186] On 18 March the court released their decision which found that all the complaints against the Fiscal Compact were either inadmissible or unfounded.[187][188][189]
  • Ireland: A constitutional amendment, which authorised the government to ratify the Fiscal Compact, was approved by a referendum.[104][105] However, the government opted to wait until the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012, which implemented the provisions required by the treaty into national law, was passed before formally completing their ratification of the treaty.[190] The Oireachtas passed the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012 on 27 November,[106][191] and the ratification process was completed with a deposit of the ratification instrument on 14 December 2012.[2]
  • Malta: On 10 December 2012, after debate on the treaty in Malta's parliament had begun,[192] the government lost a confidence vote in parliament on their 2013 budget,[193][194] which resulted in parliament being dissolved and the president calling an early legislative election on 9 March 2013.[195] Until then, a caretaker government ruled the country without the power to enact any new laws.[196] After the Labour Party defeated the incumbent government in the election,[197] the treaty was re-introduced in the parliament[198] and passed unanimously on 11 June.[122]
  • Poland: 20 members of parliament submitted a proposal on 31 January 2012 calling on the parliament to schedule a referendum on the ratification of the Fiscal Compact, but the proposal was never voted on.[203] On 5 December, the bill to ratify the Fiscal Compact was submitted to the parliament[204] with an attached legal evaluation stating that ratification only required a simple majority for approval in both chambers, rather than the constitutional 2/3 majority.[128] In March, Sejm parliamentarians from the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party challenged the ratification of the Fiscal Compact with the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland, listing 14 violations of the Polish Constitution.[205] They argued that ratification of the Compact required a two-thirds majority and that the text of the treaty is incompatible with the constitution.[206] A separate challenge was filed by PiS Senators in early April claiming that they were not given sufficient time to consider ratification of the Compact,[207] though it was subsequently combined with the original case by the court.[205] On 21 May 2013, the Tribunal rejected both challenges on procedural grounds, arguing that the treaty had not been fully ratified by Poland, and thus its constitutionality could not yet be challenged and judged.[208]

Entry into force, applicability and implementation[edit]

The provisions regarding governance (Title V) are applicable to all signatories since the treaty's entry into force on 1 January 2013. For eurozone members that ratify, the treaty applies in full, pursuant to article 14. Non-eurozone countries will automatically become bound by all treaty provisions the moment they adopt the euro. Prior to that, only Title V applies to them, unless they by their own initiative make a declaration to the depositary "to be bound at an earlier date by all or part of the provisions in Titles III and IV".

The applicability of the treaty's provisions for each country is summarized in the table below. The last column of the table reflects the status of compliant implementation laws, and denotes if the law has been enacted through an ordinary law or -also- with a constitutional amendment.[57] The noted compliance of implementation laws, is so far based on unofficial sources. The first official independent assessment of the treaty compliance of the listed national implementation laws, has been scheduled to be conducted by the European Commission in mid-2015, for each of the states bound by the fiscal provisions (Title III).[54]

State Sections applied Governance provisions
(Title V)
effective[2]
Fiscal and economic provisions
(Titles III and IV)
effective[2]
Implementation law for enforcement
of Title III provisions[57][209][210][211][212][213]
 Austria full (eurozone) 1 January 2013 2013:011 January 2013 Ordinary law
(simple majority)[214]
 Cyprus full (eurozone) Ordinary law
(simple majority)[215][216]
 Estonia full (eurozone) Ordinary law
(simple majority)[217]
 France full (eurozone) Ordinary law
(simple majority)
 Finland full (eurozone) Ordinary law
(simple majority)[218]
 Germany full (eurozone) Constitutional law[219]
 Greece full (eurozone) No
(must enact a law before Jan 2014)
 Ireland full (eurozone) Ordinary law
(simple majority)[191]
 Italy full (eurozone) Constitutional law
 Portugal full (eurozone) Organic law
(2/3 supermajority)
 Slovenia full (eurozone) Constitutional law[220]
 Spain full (eurozone) Constitutional law
 Denmark full (Titles III‑IV by declaration[a] and V by signing) 1 January 2013 2013:011 January 2013[a] Ordinary law
(simple majority)
 Romania full (Titles III‑IV by declaration[a] and V by signing) 1 January 2013 2013:011 January 2013[a] No
(must enact a law before Jan 2014)
 Slovakia full (eurozone) 1 January 2013[b] 2013:021 February 2013 Constitutional law
(an implementation law for the constitutional
amendment also needs to be published)
 Luxembourg full (eurozone) 1 January 2013[b] 2013:061 June 2013 Ordinary law
(simple majority)[221]
 Malta full (eurozone) 1 January 2013[b] 2013:071 July 2013 Ordinary law
(simple majority)[222][223]
 Netherlands full (eurozone) 1 January 2013[b] 2013:111 November 2013 Ordinary law
(simple majority)[224]
 Latvia full (eurozone) 1 January 2013 2014:011 January 2014[c] Ordinary law
(simple majority)[227][228]
 Bulgaria Titles III (declaration)[d] and V 1 January 2013[e] 2014:01?1 January 2014 (only Title III)[d] No
(must enact a law before Jan 2015)
 Belgium full (eurozone) 1 January 2013[b] 2014:041 April 2014 Ordinary law[229]
(simple majority)
 Lithuania Title V 1 January 2013 2015:011 January 2015[f] Constitutional law[232]
(will enter into force 1 Jan 2015)[g]
 Hungary Title V 1 January 2013[e] No Constitutional law[233]
 Poland Title V 1 January 2013[e] No No[128]
(not required until euro adoption)
 Sweden Title V 1 January 2013[e] No No[234]
(not required until euro adoption)
  1. ^ a b c d As non-Eurozone member states, Denmark and Romania declared themselves fully bound by Titles III and IV.[8][9] Denmark clarified in its declaration that this did not constitute any obligation to be automatically bound by any subsequent EU regulations within the scope of Title III+IV and adopted on the basis of those provisions of the EU Treaties (Article 136-138) which are only applicable to member states of the eurozone.[8]
  2. ^ a b c d e According to Article 14 (4), Title V applied provisionally from 1 January 2013, prior to ratification of the treaty. All titles applied from the day of entry into force of the treaty, as per Article 14 (3).
  3. ^ On 1 January 2014, Latvia adopted the euro and automatically became bound by Title III+IV (the treaty in its entirety), according to Article 14 (5).[225][226]
  4. ^ a b As a non-eurozone member state, Bulgaria declared itself bound by Title III, while Title IV will not apply until the state adopts the euro.[10]
  5. ^ a b c d According to Article 14 (4), Title V applied provisionally from 1 January 2013, prior to ratification of the treaty.
  6. ^ Lithuania is scheduled to adopt the euro on 1 January 2015, which will make the treaty become fully applicable to them from this date, according to Article 14 (5).[230][231]
  7. ^ Lithuania transposed the TSCG into its constitution, replacing its ordinary "Law on Fiscal Discipline" with effect from its euro adoption on 1 January 2015.[232]

Fiscal compliance[edit]

The compliance of last years fiscal account and the equally important forecast fiscal accounts, with the criteria set by the Fiscal Compact, is summarized for each EU member state in the table below. The figures stem from the economic forecast published by the European Commission in November 2014, basing its forecast figures on the government's already implemented fiscal budget law 2014 and its recently proposed fiscal budget law for 2015.[235] Non-exempted breaches of either the deficit or debt criteria in the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), will lead the Commission to open up an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) against the state through the publication of a 126(6) report, in which a deadline to rectify the issue is set - along with the request for the state to submit a compliant fiscal recovery and reform plan (referred to as an Economic Partnership Programme - or alternatively an Economic Adjustment Programme if the state receives a sovereign bailout).[51] All current EDP deadlines are listed in the last column of the table.

The table also list each member states' Medium-Term budgetary Objective (MTO) for its structural balance, and its current target year for achieving this MTO. Until the MTO has been achieved, all states are obliged to adhere to an adjustment path towards this country-specific target, where the structural balance must improve at least 0.5% points per year. The MTO depicts the most adverse structural balance per year the country can afford, when targeting that debt-to-GDP ratios first decline to below 60% and subsequently remain stable below this level for the next 50 years while adjusting for the forecast change of aging related costs. The MTOs are recalculated by the European Commission once every third year (most recently in December 2012), with the attached target year being updated each April by the concerned state, according to its macroeconomic developments and success of its implemented fiscal policies.[47][53]

Green rows in the table reflect full compliance with the Fiscal Compact criteria, requiring the state to have achieved its MTO for the entire 2013-15 period. Yellow rows represent compliance with only the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), as the state is still on an adjustment path to respect its MTO at a midterm horizon. Red rows reflect direct dis-compliance with the SGP criteria.

Fiscal compliance
in 2013-15
(assessed Nov 2014)
Debt-to-GDP ratio[235]
(in 2013)
Budget balance[235]
(worst figure in 2013-15)
Structural balance[235]
(worst figure in 2013-15)
MTO for structural balance[53]
(compliance checked for 2013-15)
Bailout
program
(approved by EC)
Deadline for
EDP adjustment
(as of 20 June 2014)[51]
max. 60.0%
(or declining)
min. -3.0% min. -0.5%
(or -1% if debt<60%)
MTO achieved
(or adjustment path obeyed)
AustriaT 081.2%
(MLSA compliant decline)[236]
-2.9% -1.3% 2018-0.5% in 2018 No 0No EDP (since 2014)
BelgiumT 104.5%
(MLSA incompliant)[237]
-3.0% -2.7% 20160.75% in 2016[238] No 0No EDP (since 2014)
Bulgaria 018.3% -3.7% -3.4% 2017-0.5% in 2017[239] No 0No EDP (since 2012)
Croatia1 075.7%
(75.7% \scriptscriptstyle\nleq 61.4% in 2013)
(71.3%* \scriptscriptstyle\nleq 61.4% in 2013)
(84.9% \scriptscriptstyle\nleq 72.9% in 2015)
-5.6% -4.1% N/AN/A No 20161
CyprusT 102.2%
(increasing in 2014 + 2015)
-4.9% -2.1% 20320.0% in 2032 Yes (expires 2016)3 2016
Czech Republic1 045.7% -2.1% -1.7% 202X-1.0% in 202X[240] No 0No EDP (since 2014)1
Denmark 045.0% -2.3% -1.2% 2011-0.5% since 2011[241] No 0No EDP (since 2014)
Estonia 010.1% -0.6% -1.1% 20150.0% in 2015 No 0Never had an EDP
Finland 056.0% -2.9% -1.1% 2014-0.5% in 2014[242] No 0No EDP (since 2011)
FranceT 092.2%
(increasing in 2014 + 2015)
-4.5% -3.3% 20190.0% in 2019 No 2015
GermanyT 076.9%
(MLSA compliant decline)[243]
0.0% 0.6% 2012Yes (-0.5% MTO[244] achieved since 2012) No 0No EDP (since 2012)
GreeceT 174.9%
(declining in 2015)
-12.2% 1.6% N/AN/A Yes (expires 2016)3 2016
HungaryR, T 077.3%
(MLSA incompliant)[245]
-2.9% -2.8% 2012-1.7% since 2012[246] Yes (expired 2010)2 0No EDP (since 2013)
IrelandT 123.3%
(declining in 2014 + 2015)
-5.7% -4.8% 20190.0% in 2019[247] Yes (expired 2013)3 2015
ItalyT 127.9%
(MLSA incompliant)[248]
-3.0% -0.9% 20160.0% in 2016 No 0No EDP (since 2013)
Latvia 038.2% -1.2% -1.6% 2019-0.5% in 2019[249] Yes (expired 2011)2 0No EDP (since 2013)
LithuaniaR 039.0% -2.6% -2.2% 2015-1.0% in 2015[250] No 0No EDP (since 2013)
Luxembourg 023.6% -0.4% 0.4% 20130.5% in 2013[251] No 0Never had an EDP
MaltaT 069.8%
(MLSA incompliant in 2014)[252]
(MLSA compliant decline in 2015)[252]
-2.7% -2.9% 20170.0% in 2017[253] No 2014
NetherlandsT 068.6%
(MLSA compliant decline)[254]
-2.5% -0.8% 2018-0.5% in 2018[255] No 0No EDP (since 2014)
PolandR 055.7% -4.0% -3.5% 2018-1.0% in 2018[256] No 2015
PortugalT 128.0%
(declining in 2014 + 2015)
-4.9% -1.9% 2015-0.5% in 2015[257] Yes (expired 2014)3 2015
Romania 037.9% -2.8% -2.5% 2014-1.0% in 2014[258] Yes (expires 2015)2 0No EDP (since 2013)
Slovakia 054.6% -3.0% -2.1% 2022-0.5% in 2022 No 0No EDP (since 2014)
SloveniaT 070.4%
(increasing in 2014 + 2015)
-14.6% -2.5% 2017-0.5% in 2017[259] No 2015
SpainT 092.1%
(increasing in 2014 + 2015)
-6.8% -2.3% 20260.0% in 2026 No 2016
SwedenR 038.6% -2.4% -1.5% 2011-1.0% since 2011[260] No 0Never had an EDP
United Kingdom1, T 087.2%
(increasing in 2014 + 2015)
-5.8% -5.0% N/AN/A No 2014–151

1 Did not sign the Fiscal Compact.[2] 0000 2 EU 'balance of payments' programme.[261] 0000 3 ESM/EFSM/EFSF programme.[262][263] 0000 R Ratified, but not bound by fiscal provisions (Title III).[2]
T Transitional states, only required to have a declining debt-to-GDP ratio to the extend of ensuring full debt-criterion compliance by the end of their 3-year transition period following EDP abrogation.

The noted ongoing EDPs will be abrogated, as soon as the concerned state for the period encompassing the last completed fiscal year (based on final notified data) and for the current and next year (based on forecast data), succeeds in delivering a general government account in full compliance with the SGP's deficit criteria (budget deficit no more than 3.0% of GDP) and the debt criterion (debt-to-GDP ratio below 60% - or sufficiently declining towards this level). The deadlines for EDP abrogations will only be extended if extraordinary circumstances occur - like a recession or severe economic downturn. As part of the increased surveillance efforts introduced by the Sixpack, all EDP's are now evaluated three times per year, based upon data from the Commission's economic outlook reports published in February, May and November.[49] Member states involved in bailout programs are evaluated even more frequently and more in depth, through the so-called "Programme Reviews".[264] EDP abrogations are normally announced in June, as they always await final notified data for the last completed fiscal year (being published in early May), but can occasionally also be announced later in the year (due to later arriving positive data revisions for recorded data or subsequent improvements materializing for its forecast data). The SGP and Fiscal Compact feature identical debt criteria, so they only differ compliance wise for the deficit criteria, where the Fiscal Compact sets the additional structural deficit criteria to be met as a main criteria (elevating its importance from the additional but less binding MTO adjustment path criteria).[50][265]

The debt-criterion has due to transitional reasons been split into three different requirements, being in place since the sixpack reform was implemented in November 2011. For states aspiring to have their ongoing 2011‑EDP abrogated based on compliance with the debt-criterion, this will require they deliver a declining debt-to-GDP ratio for the last year in the forecast horizon, which was even changed to "no declining requirement at all" - as per the latest revised procedure published in 2013. The second debt-criterion is the so-called "transitional criteria", applying for states with an abrogated 2011‑EDP throughout a three year transition period, in which the debt ratio is required to decline steadily towards full compliance with the debt brake benchmark rule by the end of the transition period - by annual improvements equal to the calculated Minimum Linear Structural Adjustment (MLSA) of its general government deficit. Finally in the fourth year after the 2011‑EDP has been abrogated, all transitional states will be assessed for compliance with the normal "debt brake benchmark rule" (which also apply towards states that never had a 2011‑EDP).[49]

The new "debt brake benchmark rule" require the state to deliver, either for the three year backward-looking or cyclically adjusted backward-looking or forward-looking period, an annual debt-to-GDP ratio decrease of at least 5% of the benchmark value in excess of the 60% limit.[49] As Germany and Malta both had their 2011‑EDP abrogated in 2012, these two states will need to comply with the "debt brake benchmark rule" starting from Fiscal Year 2014, with their first official debt-reduction evaluation expected to be published shortly after the year has ended - and at the latest when the Commission publish its assessment of the next Stability Programmes of the member states in May 2015. Among the member states with a debt-to-GDP ratio above 60% in 2013, Croatia was the first one being required to comply with the new "debt brake benchmark rule" in January 2014, where the European Commission concluded no compliance was found, due to both its debt-to-GDP ratio and cyclically adjusted debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding its calculated backward-looking benchmark limit in 2013 (75.7% \scriptscriptstyle\nleq 61.4% and 71.3%* \scriptscriptstyle\nleq 61.4%) and due to its forecast forward-looking debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding its calculated benchmark limit in 2015 (84.9% \scriptscriptstyle\nleq 72.9%).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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