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October 2008 | Issue 11
An ECFIN conference on energy in Moscow

‘The economic aspects of the energy sector in CIS countries’ was the title of a high-level conference held at the EU delegation premises in Moscow on 27 June 2008. Inspired by the DG ECFIN Economic Paper of the same name, the conference focused on the macroeconomic aspects of the energy sector in the CIS and some of the challenges arising from their heavy reliance on it. Selected aspects of EU-CIS relations were covered as well as current trends and options for reform. Conference coordinator Lúcio Vinhas de Souza of DG ECFIN spoke on an impending energy crunch and the legal framework needed to avoid this crunch and allow the necessary investments to proceed. The conference contributions can be downloaded in the ‘events‘ section of the DG ECFIN website.
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October 2008 | Issue 11
Quarterly Report on the Euro Area: special edition

To mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the euro, the June issue of the Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA) is entirely devoted to EMU@10. With the title ‘EMU@10 – Assessing the first ten years and challenges ahead‘, this special edition provides a three-part summary of the work presented in the recent Communication and report on ten years of the single currency.

Part I of the QREA reviews the achievements and shortcomings of the first ten years of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Part II discusses forthcoming challenges. Part III presents the three-pronged policy agenda that the Commission has put forward to ensure that EMU can function even better in the future. The QREA special edition can be found in the ‘publications‘ section of the DG ECFIN website.

October 2008 | Issue 11
Interim forecasts: a difficult and uncertain environment

A sharper-than-expected slowdown is how the September interim economic forecasts from DG ECFIN describe recent developments in the European economy. EU growth in 2008 is revised 0.5% downwards to 1.4% (1.3% for the euro area), and inflation revised upwards to 3.8%. “The continuation of the turmoil in the financial markets one year on, the near doubling of energy prices over the same period and the correction in some housing markets have had an impact on the economy,” said DG ECFIN Commissioner Joaquín Almunia. Although inflation may be at a turning point, business and consumer confidence have been hit badly say the forecasters. The situation varies between Member States: some economies are at a standstill (UK and Italy), others are slowing (Germany and France), while some are struggling on (Poland and the Netherlands). And there are few silver linings ahead, warn the forecasters: the slump in housing markets appears to be spreading and, outside the EU, while emerging economies have maintained robust growth so far, a global economic slowdown is looming on the horizon – offering a bleak outlook for EU economies going forward. The latest forecasts can be found in the ‘publications‘ section of the DG ECFIN website.

Latest forecasts

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October 2008 | Issue 11
DG ECFIN workshop: keeping an eye on the markets

Held on 24 September, this workshop looked at new proposals for monitoring key markets in goods and services as part of the initiative to improve the governance of the single market and improve the functioning of individual market sectors. Methodologies for in-depth monitoring of various sectors, including the food supply chain, retail trade and electrical engineering, were covered by speakers drawn from across the EU and from the Commission. In addition, progress in applying the new methodologies at EU level, as well as the possibilities of implementing them at national level were discussed.

October 2008 | Issue 11
Tracking microeconomic reforms

On 30 July, DG ECFIN launched the on-line Micref database, a tool for monitoring and analysing the reform process that is part of the EU Lisbon Strategy. In particular, Micref aims to improve the surveillance of microeconomic reforms and their implementation in three broad policy domains: open and competitive markets; business environment and entrepreneurship; and the knowledge-based economy. Information on the design and scope of such reforms is given and cross-country comparisons can be made. In co-operation with the Member States, the Micref database is constantly updated. It currently covers the years 2004-2006 and will shortly be extended forwards to 2008, and backwards to 2000. Micref complements a similar DG ECFIN database – Labref – which deals with labour reforms. More information and access to the database can be found in the ‘economic databases and indicators‘ section on the DG ECFIN website.

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October 2008 | Issue 11
DG ECFIN Annual Research Conference

Held on 16-17 October 2008, the 5th DG ECFIN Research Conference took as its topic: ‘Boosting growth and productivity in an open Europe: the role of international flows of goods, services, capital and labour‘. Increasing globalisation and progressive European integration are affecting the volumes and directions of international trade flows, not only for goods but also for capital, services and labour. Core questions for the conference participants were how international flows can affect growth and productivity, and whether policies for influencing these trade flows can support higher growth and productivity in the EU. Contributions to the Research Conference can be downloaded from the ‘events‘ section of the DG ECFIN website.