The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, recently made the recommendation that fiscal consolidation (read “austerity”!) must continue in Europe, and that the European Union (EU) member states “should now intensify their efforts on structural reforms for competitiveness”. He specifically highlighted the need for comprehensive labour market reforms as “the best way to kick-start job creation”. The call for structural reform to supplement austerity policies is not new. A number of EU member states have introduced far-reaching institutional reforms during the crisis – several of them under pressure from the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. Structural reforms differ from regular austerity measures since their main goal is to change the country’s institutional framework to allegedly boost economic growth.
In the following paragraphs we summaries major structural reforms that we have found in eleven EU member states that were strongly affected by the crisis.