A survey of 22 OECD-countries

Published under: Stoltenberg's 1st Government

Publisher Ministry of Finance

How Structural Policy Making is Organised, by Jan-Erik Støstad. Juli 2000

July 2000
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance
The Tax Policy Department

How Structural Policy Making is Organised - A Survey of 22 OECD-Countries

By Jan-Erik Støstad 1The opinions expressed in this report are my own, and do not represent the official policy of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance. I thank all the national experts supplying replies. In particular I would like to thank Lori Ridgeway, Director General for Economic and Policy Analysis at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, for important suggestions and comments to two earlier drafts. I have also benefitted from the encouragement and advice of Jørgen Elmeskov, Thorvald Moe and Deborah Roseveare at the OECD, and Cecilie Fosse Hansen, Hans Henrik Scheel and Geir Åvitsland at the Ministry.

Contents

Summary

1

Introduction  

2

Methodology  

3

The answers – an overview  

4

Discussion  

4.1

The emphasis on challenging and co-ordinating functions in structural policy making  

4.2

Defining the challenging and co-ordinating tasks  

4.3

Organising structural policy responsibilities within a central ministry  

4.4

Ensuring high quality structural policy research  

4.5

Structural policy publications  

4.6

Structural policy indicators and benchmarking  

5

Concluding remarks  

Annex A

Country replies  

Annex B

Structural policy organisations outside government  

Annex C

Structural policy documents  

Annex D

Letter from the Ministry of Finance of September 11, 1998  

Summary

The report presents a survey of how 22 OECD countries organise their work with structural policy, which has become an essential part of economic policy in all member states.

In sixteen countries one or more central ministries - usually Ministries of Finance or Economic Affairs - have a clear responsibility for overall structural policy making. Six countries, however, use a more decentralised model, with little or no challenging and co-ordinating (C&C) from central ministries towards sector ministries. As expected, in all countries the sector ministries are generally in charge of specific structural reforms in their area.

The country replies indicate a need to clarify the C&C structural policy functions of central ministries. These functions may comprise the following tasks:

  • to formulate main structural policy goals and strategies,
  • to ensure policy coherence and agenda management, structural surveillance, including establishing structural indicators,
  • to initiate and evaluate specific structural reforms (with sector ministry),
  • to address cross sector structural issues,
  • to assess and propose changes in how structural policy making is organised.

The survey shows that these C&C tasks (in central ministries) are most often organised within a macroeconomic policy department. Frequently, though, the budget department is more important in pursuing specific structural reforms.

The report argues that OECD countries should make sure their structural policy making is as well-organised as possible. This requires governments e.g.:

  • to have a clear definition of the C&C tasks of structural policy making, periodically review how these tasks are solved, and make the necessary changes,
  • to look for ways to increase regulatory competence and awareness of structural policy goals, as well as to reduce interest group capture, in the sector ministries,
  • to have sufficient incentives and a good organisational set-up for stimulating high quality research in the structural policy area,
  • to produce structural policy progress reports regularly, inside and/or outside the ministries.

The country replies provide several ideas on how work with structural policy may be strengthened in practice. These include the Productivity Commission in Australia, a strong structural policy body outside the ministries, the Policy Research Initiative (PRI) in Canada, connecting policy departments and building structural policy research capacity, the separate department for structural policy issues in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Hungary, and benchmarking studies in Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands.

1. Introduction

Microeconomic reforms have been high on the agenda in the industrialised countries the last 10-20 years. Deregulation of domestic credit markets, abolishing of exchange controls, reforms and privatisation in the public sector and far reaching tax reforms are some of the quite impressive achievements. Gradually the work with these reforms has come to be viewed as an economic policy area in its own right, most often labelled ”structural policy”.

In Norway, we have seen a need to strengthen structural policy by providing the politicians and the public with better analyses of structural policy issues. As a part of this process, it was in the summer of 1998 decided to conduct a survey of how structural policy making is organised in the OECD-countries. We were also interested in other governments` work with structural indicators and structural policy review documents. After a discussion with experts at the OECD, a questionnaire was distributed to the OECD-countries in September 1998.

The more specific objectives of the survey were:

To give a broad overview of how the work with structural policy is organised in the OECD-countries, especially concerning the emphasis on the challenging and co-ordinating functions of a central institution, and whether these functions organisationally are linked to macroeconomic policy, budgetary policy or none of these.

  • To get concrete ideas for the work with structural policy at the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, both on questions of organisation and presentation.
  • To support our exploratory work with structural policy indicators and benchmarking.

This report describes the methodology of the survey (Section 2), gives an overview of the replies (Section 3), and adds some reflections (Section 4). Section 5 provides concluding remarks.

2. Methodology

A letter with the questionnaire, reprinted here as Annex D, was on September 11 1998 sent to all the OECD-countries, addressed to national experts on structural policy issues. Most of these experts were representatives from their country at the meeting of Working Party 1 under the Economic Policy Committee at the OECD in February 1998. As a reminder a letter was sent to those who had yet failed to reply on November 17 1998. Additional efforts to attract answers have later been done by telephone, fax and e-mail.

Replies have been received by 22 of the 29 OECD-countries, a response rate of

76%. We have not received replies from Belgium, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Turkey. In some instances and for various reasons the reply has been received from other persons or institutions than listed in the letter of September 11.

The concept of ”structural policy” itself has, as far as we are aware, no universally accepted definition. As stated in the note at the start of the questionnaire ( Annex D), we have here used the concept in what we believe is the standard OECD-way, as a broad economic policy area comprising the range of microeconomic interventions that governments make in the economy, from establishing the underpinning institutional arrangements, through to specific regulations and spending programs. The structural policy area in this interpretation complements the macroeconomic policy area, and has main objectives to raise potential GDP and increase the flexibility of the economy. The answers do not indicate serious misunderstandings as to the ”structural policy” concept.

The small number of questions, the non-response rate of 24%, weaknesses in a few of the answers, as well as the fact that our findings only cover one point in time, limit the conclusions one can draw from the study. It should furthermore be borne in mind that the institutional issues addressed in this survey are complex, and that different historical and cultural contexts make it ill advised to use one country’s organisational set up as a blueprint for other countries. We believe, nevertheless, that the simple methodology employed has been reasonably adapted to the objectives stated above.

Finally, it should be noted that issues concerning international co-operation, the role of international organisations and the European Union, and particular aspects of structural policy in countries with federal systems of government, are not addressed in the survey.

3. The answers – an overview

In this section we have summarised the answers. A full text version of the answers by country is provided in Annex A.

Question 1

Which ministry or other body within the Government, if any, has main responsibility for the economic policy area of structural policy (including e.g. structural policy surveillance)?

Nine countries, Australia, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, report that there is one ministry – a ministry of finance or economic affairs - who has the main overall responsibility for structural policy.

In seven (mostly larger) countries, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, United Kingdom and United States, the overall responsibility for structural policy is shared between two or more ministries/bodies. Of these Canada reports of ”mechanisms and structures within the federal government to ensure policy coherence and monitoring”, which may be important in other countries as well.

Six countries, Austria, CzechRepublic, Finland, Iceland, Ireland and Italy, seem to use a more decentralised model of structural policy making, with less emphasis on co-ordination and challenging from a central ministry, at least at the administrative level.

In all countries responsibility for structural issues in a specific policy field, for instance education policy, is usually assigned to the relevant ministry, with the central ministry(ies) playing a more or less active part 2Of course, all the central ministries have some ”sector responsibilities” in addition, for example tax, financial markets and/or labour markets issues..

Question 2

Which department or other unit within this ministry or body, if any, is assigned specifically to this task? Does this department have other responsibilities as well, for instance budget policy or macroeconomic forecasting/policy advice?

At least five of the nine countries where one ministry has responsibility for overall structural policy, have assigned this to the same department as macroeconomic policy or forecasts. In the Ministry of Finance in Norway, overall structural policy is assigned the Tax Department, which has responsibility for equity and efficiency issues in the economy.

Some of the countries, for instance Denmark, emphasise the work with sectoral structural reforms in the budget department in a central ministry.

Only Hungary reports of a department for structural policy without other main tasks in the budget or macro areas.

Question 3

How is the responsibility for structural policy in this unit defined, explicitly or by experience? For instance, does it have responsibility for

  1. structural surveillance, including identifying possible structural reforms,
  2. preparing and proposing structural reforms,
  3. evaluating policy coherence,
  4. evaluating structural reforms?

Of the replies from the 16 countries having one or more ministries with overall responsibility for structural policy, seven gave information concerning this issue. In all these countries, a central ministry assumes responsibility for the tasks (a) through (c). In five countries the ministry may also evaluate structural reforms.

Question 4

Which important bodies outside the government, if any, have one or more of the activities (a) – (d) in Question 3, as a major task?

The Productivity Commission plays an important role in structural policy making in Australia (see Section 4.1 below).

As reflected in the list in Annex B, most other answers mention one or more bodies, for instance The Board of Experts for Assessment of General Economic Trends in Germany or The Center for Economic Research and Planning in Greece, but these often cover other areas as well.

Question 5

Are there important permanent committees or working groups in the structural policy area with representation from

  1. different departments within the ministry or body
  2. different ministries
  3. the ministry (ministries) and other sectors, for instance academic institutions or the business community, or
  4. only organisations from outside the ministries?

In practice, coherence in structural policy making depends on co-ordination at the political, the bureaucratic, as well as the research/analysis level – and good communication between these levels. A successful structural policy may also require co-operation with the social partners. Hence, and as expected, the countries report of committees and working groups at different levels and with different objectives.

Permanent committees or working groups seem to play a certain role in structural policy making in about half of the countries. Most of the reported bodies are inter-ministerial.

The Interministerial Commission for Economic Affairs in Spain, with representation from the ministers with responsibilities in economic policy areas, reviews proposals for specific structural policy initiatives as well as structural policy strategy. It is headed by the Minister of Economy and Finance, and meets every week, dealing with 8-9 issues on an average meeting (including macroeconomic issues).

In Canada, the federal government has put in place a series of networks of policy departments called the Policy Research Initiative (PRI). The networks cover the areas growth, human development, social development and globalisation. The aim of the initiative is to improve cross cutting policy research.

In some countries, such as CzechRepublic, Greece, Iceland, and Ireland, there are permanent bodies dealing with structural policy issues where the social partners are represented as well. In Ireland, papers from The National Economic and Social Council, a research body with various interests represented, is reported to have been highly influential in setting the agenda for structural reform.

In Sweden the Expert Group on Studies in Public Economy, a working group reporting to the Ministry of Finance, provides structural policy analyses on a permanent basis, with focus on public sector efficiency.

Question 6

What main, regular, government or non-government (published) documents exist in the structural policy area?

Almost all countries have regular, published documents covering structural policy, although few documents seem to cover this policy area exclusively. Most documents are produced annually. In 4-5 countries, however, the main, regular structural policy document is published every third or fourth year. A list of the reported documents is found in Annex C.

Question 7

Does there exist a set of structural indicators for the country for policy surveillance purposes? Who produces this set? Is benchmarking being extensively used in the structural policy area?

Three countries, the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland, publish structural policy indicator sets on a continuing basis. Finland has published a set as an ad hoc exercise. All these countries have taken a benchmarking approach. In addition, Australia and Greece indicate a systematic and rather extensive use of structural policy indicators.

4. Discussion

In light of Norwegian experiences and the replies reported in Section 3, we will in this section reflect on some organisational issues in structural policy making.

In some countries the functions of overall structural policy making is divided between two or three ministries or other bodies (including Prime Ministers Offices). Many of the comments will be relevant also for these countries, although we for convenience use the singular term ”central ministry”.

4.1 The emphasis on challenging and co-ordinating functions in structural policy making

Should governments organise structural policy making with strong emphasis on challenging and co-ordinating functions in a central ministry?

The survey confirms that specific structural reforms in general are seen as a responsibility of the sector ministries (see the answers to Question 1). What differs between countries is the emphasis in a central ministry or other body on the challenging and co-ordinating functions (”C&C-functions”) of structural policy 3Thanks to Lori Ridgeway for giving me the idea of using the concepts “co-ordinating” and “challenging” when describing the main “overall” structural policy functions.. The replies do not, however, convey whether the present way of organising structural policy making has been evaluated and decided upon, or has developed over time without explicit decisions.

We are in no position to explain these similarities and differences, or to make specific recommendations as to changes in structural policy organisation. Instead we will limit ourselves to pointing out these factors possibly leading to more emphasis in a country on the C&C functions,

  • the greater the perceived need for structural reforms or structural surveillance,
  • the greater the need and possibilities of sequencing structural reforms, and the similarities in issues facing different sectors,
  • the greater the complexity and the interactions of the economy,
  • the less competent, or the more captured of special interests, the sector ministries are perceived to be,
  • the less extensive and reliable research, and the less public debate, on structural policy issues, and
  • the stronger a central ministry traditionally has been in macroeconomic or budget policy making.

There may also, to some degree, be a trade off as to how strong emphasis is laid on a central ministry, and on specific co-operative mechanisms (interministerial committees, budget processes etc.). An excerpt from the Canadian reply may illustrate this:

”Overall, in the context of other responses that you have received, you would probably want to classify Canada as a decentralised model (and becoming ever more so), but with a corresponding increased emphasis on mechanisms to ensure policy co-ordination and coherence (…)”.

A few countries have set up separate bodies to co-ordinate structural policy (see replies to Question 5). In general, however, according to the survey the OECD countries have not given priority to permanent intra-governmental bodies at the administrative level for general structural policy issues (although working groups etc. for specific structural reforms are prevalent).

The central ministry in OECD countries has so far only to a limited extent delegated main C&C structural policy functions to external bodies (directorates). The Productivity Commission in Australia seems to be an exception. The Productivity Commission is the Australian government’s main advisory body on structural reform matters, and has a broad structural policy agenda. It conducts public inquiries, reviews regulations, monitors the progress in structural reform and makes policy recommendations.

The survey does not cover the quality of sector ministries and agencies in their structural reform design and implementation. However, together with their incentives to pursue overall policy goals, this must be a crucial condition for a successful structural policy in the longer term. Presumably many countries should pay more attention to these issues of regulatory competence and regulatory capture in sector ministries.

4.2 Defining the challenging and co-ordinating tasks

What, more specifically, are the challenging and co-ordinating structural policy tasks of a central ministry? How should resources be allocated between these tasks?

The factors mentioned in Section 4.1 may be part of a checklist when structural policy organisation is reviewed. However, such a review should also consider the C&C functions of a central ministry more closely.

Drawing on our experiences in Norway, contact with experts at the OECD and replies to the questionnaire, we will list the following as important potential challenging and co-ordinating tasks for a central structural policy ministry:

  1. formulate structural policy, its main targets and strategy,
  2. evaluate and give advice on policy coherence and agenda management, both within the structural policy field and between this and macroeconomic policy,
  3. structural surveillance through a top-down approach, including establishing structural indicators and performing benchmarking exercises, as well as giving information on structural reforms in other countries,
  4. identify, prepare, propose and evaluate specific structural reforms, usually in collaboration with other ministries/bodies,
  5. address structural policyissues of cross-sector interest (for instance implementation of auctions).
  6. assess and propose changes to the organisation and working methods of structural policy making, including giving advice on how to organise structural policy research.

In this list, the “challenging” function of a central ministry is to a large extent covered by a, b and d.

The replies to the questionnaire do not indicate that the specific tasks of C&C are particularly well-defined throughout the OECD-countries. Neither are these, as far as we know, much discussed in the economics literature or in main structural policy documents. A clarification of the challenging and co-ordinating responsibilities of the central ministry and the appurtenant tasks may therefore be a useful exercise in Norway as well as in other countries.

We will not discuss the relative weight a central ministry should attach to the tasks (a) to (f), other than pointing out that it may be difficult to secure and sustain necessary competence and enthusiasm if the central ministry does not engage much in specific structural reforms. Of course, challenging sector ministries on their own territory is often demanding in practice. Political will, and support from a high administrative level, may sometimes be decisive for this task (d) to be solved well in a central ministry, thus at the same time laying a foundation for solving the other C&C tasks satisfactorily.

4.3 Organising structural policy responsibilities within a central ministry

How should the challenging and co-ordinating functions, in an economic affairs or finance ministry be organised?

The unit for most C&C functions of structural policy in a central ministry seems most often to be jointly organised with macroeconomic policy and forecasting (see the replies to Question 2). This way of organising may be best suited to the tasks (a), (b), (c) and perhaps (f) above.

However, within such a model some countries stress the budget department’s work with specific structural reforms. This utilises the budget department’s sector competence, observes that structural reforms regularly have budgetary implications, and makes it more convenient in practice to link budget issues and structural reform proposals in the political process. For instance, in the Ministry of Finance in Denmark the budget divisions have a clear responsibility for pursuing structural reforms in ”their” sector, and at the same time these initiatives are seen in close connection with the macroeconomic strategy and results from an increasingly ambitious structural surveillance.

In Norway’s Ministry of Finance, a very small unit for structural policy is organised within the Tax Department, which has responsibility for equity and efficiency issues in the economy. As in Denmark, however, the budget department generally plays the most important role in specific structural reforms (except tax reforms and financial markets reforms).

To be successful, such a ”divided” way of organising the C&C functions of structural policy necessitates good co-operation between the macroeconomic and budget policy units. We would expect this to be least difficult to achieve in countries where one ministry covers both policy fields.

A separate, strong structural policy department, with competence covering all sectors, might be an alternative to ”divided” organising, while still being ambitious in challenging sector ministries. Such a set up may also possibly provide for more clear cut policy advises to ministers when budgetary and structural policy goals have different policy implications. However, a separate structural policy department will in part duplicate resources in the budget department. It will also create new co-ordination problems within the ministry. As mentioned above, only one country, Hungary, reports of a separate structural policy department in a central ministry.

4.4 Ensuring high quality structural policy research

Is the present output from research organisations in the structural policy area satisfactory?

Research may potentially play an important role in structural policy making, partly by delivering input to the policy process directly, and partly by agenda setting and stimulating public debate.

Structural policy research is necessary both on general and specific (sector) issues. Traditionally research in the economic policy area have most often been either macro or sector (e.g. agriculture) oriented. The survey indicates that this is still the case, as there are few countries that report research organisations with clear focus on overall structural policy and interdependencies between different structural reforms.

The Policy Research Initiative (PRI) in Canada, mentioned above, creates research networks between departments, both inside and outside the government. The networks pool research, and let smaller policy departments share knowledge. Building structural policy research capacity in this way may perhaps be particularly interesting for small countries.

Another example worth mentioning is The Expert Group on Studies in Public Economy (ESO) in Sweden.

In Norway, one might consider whether structural policy research and analysis should be strengthened, for instance using the PRI in Canada as inspiration, and/or with e.g. the Research Department in Statistics Norway playing a more active and co-ordinating role. In our country, as well as in other OECD-countries, this part of the structural policy process probably deserves more attention.

The survey gives no indication of the strength of structural policy research on the sector level, which will also be important for the quality of structural policy. We would expect that small countries have the greatest problems with ensuring first class research over a broad spectrum, and that all countries face problems of vested interests with the output from privately financed think tanks etc.

4.5 Structural policy publications

Do the government´s publications on structural policy give the parliaments and the public sufficient focussed information, both on the need for a proactive structural policy more generally, and on specific upcoming reforms?

A list of the reported relevant publications covering structural policy is given in Annex C. Most of the documents, for instance the annual Economic Report of the President in the USA, seem to cover both macroeconomic and structural policy. Some countries publish separate reports on structural policy, as the Progress Report on the Reform of Goods, Services and Capital Markets in Spain.

Apart from the positive effects of the publications themselves, such documents may serve as an important framework and focus of structural policy work within the government.

In Norway, the government’s annual economic policy document includes an overview of recent and planned structural reforms in labour, financial and product markets (about 20 pages). In practice, this is a quite selective ”flow” approach to structural surveillance. The effort to try to establish and present more aggregate structural analyses, and link this to macroeconomic performance, has been rather limited so far, partly because of the expected difficulties involved. Nevertheless, major structural reforms (e.g. green tax reform) are often supported by use of applied general equilibrium models (AGE-models).

4.6 Structural policy indicators and benchmarking

Should a regularly produced set of structural indicators support structural surveillance? Should such a set be a part of a benchmarking exercise, which ranks the country’s structural performance both on a sector by sector and on an aggregate level?

Producing a set of structural policy indicators can be seen as one part of the structural surveillance process. In general, these indicators should be viewed as signposts for further analyses, rather than unconditional policy advice.

Work with structural policy indicators to complement the well-known macroeconomic indicators started at the IMF and the OECD 10 years ago (OECD 1990). However, no internationally agreed-upon set of structural indicators yet exists, and just a few countries report here to have done systematic work in this area. Among these there is a notable trend of producing and publishing benchmark-studies, starting in the Netherlands in 1995 (Ministry of Economic Affairs 1995). The aim is, in a more or less normative way, to assess quantitatively aspects of competitiveness ( Finland, Ireland) or - more ambitiously - welfare ( Denmark), and to compare this with the same indicators for a few selected other countries.

As yet, in Norway we have been somewhat reluctant to embark on a benchmarking exercise, one reason being these analyses` partial and yet quite normative approach, and preliminary work with structural policy indicators have been following more in the vein of OECD 1990 (see Stostad 1998). Statistics Norway has for instance for several years produced Effective Rates of Assistance (ERAs) for Norwegian industries on commission from the Ministry of Finance (Holmøy and Hægeland 1999).

Canada reports that decentralised production of indicators follows from their decentralised, albeit co-ordinated, responsibility for reform.

5. Concluding remarks

Even if major organisational reforms may not be warranted or possible there will always be some scope for organisational adjustments to increase effectiveness in the structural policy process. In our opinion this institutional approach should not be underestimated as one way to improve economic flexibility and growth, main objectives of public policy. A strong institutional basis for structural policy making will contribute to sustained efforts in an area where results still are likely to be vulnerable to cycles of political interest.

Hence, countries should make sure that their structural policy making is as well organised as possible. This includes:

  • having a clear definition of the challenging and co-ordinating tasks of structural policy making,
  • regularly review how these tasks are solved, being aware of the need for co-operation on all levels (political decision making, bureaucratic decision-making and research/analysis), and whenever possible make the necessary institutional changes,
  • looking for ways to increase regulatory competence and awareness of structural policy goals, as well as to reduce interest group capture, in the sector ministries, for instance by establishing networks,
  • having sufficient incentives and a good organisational set up for high quality research in the structural policy area.

The country replies offer some ideas of how work with structural policy may be strenghtened. Obviously, these may be more or less applicable in specific countries. Some examples worth mentioning are:

  • the Productivity Commission in Australia, a strong structural policy body outside the ministries,
  • the Policy Research Initiative (PRI) in Canada, which connects policy departments and provides cross-cutting policy research, and in this way builds structural policy research capacity,
  • the National Economic and Social Council in Ireland, connecting the social partners to important research and analyses of structural policy,
  • the Interministerial Commission for Economic Affairs in Spain, where structural policy issues are discussed weekly at the highest political level, and
  • the department for structural policy issues in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Hungary, the only central ministry department in the survey reported to have only structural policy as its responsibility.

This report is, of course, only a small step towards a better understanding of how structural policy making is, and should be, organised, and we would encourage further work in this area. Studies of how central ministries have played major parts in initiating structural reforms would for instance be of interest, and, more generally, potential links between different organising models and the development of structural policy may possibly be investigated. The emerging new institutional economics, as reflected for instance in Central Planning Bureau (1997), underscores the importance of institutions and organisations on economic development, and may possibly support further work from the theoretical side.

References

The Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. Challenging Neighbours. Rethinking German and Dutch Economic Institutions. Springer Verlag (1997).

The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs. Benchmarking the Netherlands (1995).

Holmøy, E. and Hægeland, T. ”Effective Rates of Assistance for Norwegian Industries”. Review of Income and Wealth, Series 45, Number 1, March 1999.

OECD Department of Economics and Statistics. ”The Role of Indicators in Structural Surveillance”. Working Paper No. 72 (Paris 1990).

Stostad, J-E. ”Reducing the Communication Gap Between Economists and Policy Makers: A Set of Structural Policy Indicators”. Discussion Paper, CEPR Publication No. 494, Stanford University (April 1998).

ANNEX A

THE COUNTRY REPLIES

This annex contains the full-text answers as received at the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.

Contents

The questions  

Australia  

Austria  

Canada  

Czech Republic  

Denmark  

Finland  

France  

Germany  

Greece  

Hungary  

Iceland  

Ireland  

Italy  

Luxembourg  

The Netherlands  

Norway  

Poland  

Spain  

Sweden  

Switzerland  

United Kingdom  

United States  

The questions

Question 1

Which ministry or other body within the Government, if any, has main responsibility for the economic policy area of structural policy (including e.g. structural policy surveillance)?

Question 2

Which department or other unit within this ministry or body, if any, is assigned specifically to this task? Does this department have other responsibilities as well, for instance, budget policy or macroeconomic forecasting/policy advice?

Question 3

How is the responsibility for structural policy in this unit defined, explicitly or by experience? For instance, does it have responsibility for:

(a) structural surveillance, including identifying possible structural reforms,

(b) preparing and proposing structural reforms,

(c) evaluating policy coherence,

(d) evaluating structural reforms?

Question 4

Which important bodies outside the Government, if any, have one or more of the activities (a)-(d) in Question 3, as a major task?

Question 5

Are there important permanent committees or working groups in the structural policy area with representation from:

(a) different departments within the ministry or body,

(b) different ministries,

  1. the ministry (ministries) and other sectors, for instance academic institutions or the
  2. business community, or only organisations from outside the ministries?

Question 6

What main, regular, government or non-government (published) documents exist in the structural policy area?

Question 7

Does there exist a set of structural indicators for the country for policy surveillance purposes? Who produces this set? Is benchmarking being extensively used in the structural policy area?

Australia

Question 1

Australia has a federal system of government. The Commonwealth has principal responsibility for areas such as taxation, the budget, the labour market, financial markets, corporate law and foreign trade (reducing barriers). In infrastructure areas, where the States have direct responsibility, such as electricity, gas, railways and ports, the State Governments and the Commonwealth have cooperated extensively to bring about reform. The focus of these national efforts has been to rationalise regulation where there were overlapping responsibilities between governments, to better integrate infrastructure networks and to reduce barriers to the development of competitive national markets. Key examples have included the Special Premiers Conference in 1990, the establishment of the Council of Australian Governments, the National Competition Policy initiative and electricity and gas reforms.

At the Commonwealth level, the Treasurer is the principal Economic Minister and has main responsibility for macroeconomic policies (including macroeconomic forecasting) and for many areas of structural reforms such as taxation, the Budget, financial markets, corporate law and general competition policies. The Minister for Financial Services and Regulation and the Assistant Treasurer assist the Treasurer, with their own areas of responsibility. The Department of Treasury is located within the Treasurer’s portfolio. It provides policy advice to the Treasury Ministers (including advice on structural reform issues) and assists the Treasury Ministers in the administration of their responsibilities and the implementation of Government decisions.

The Treasury Ministers also have responsibility for three economic institutions, namely the Productivity Commission (PC), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the National Competition Council (NCC). The PC is the Government’s main advisory body on reform matters. It conducts public inquiries, reviews regulations and makes recommendations to the Government on options for reform. It constantly monitors progress in reforms in the economy. The NCC assesses the extent of progress in structural reform and makes recommendations to the Government on payments to the States that have achieved satisfactory progress in competition reforms. It also monitors and promotes further structural reforms. The ACCC is an independent statutory authority seeking to improve competition and efficiency in markets, ensuring adherence to fair trading practices and promoting competitive pricing.

Other Commonwealth Ministers (and their respective departments) have main carriage of structural reform for infrastructure falling within their portfolio responsibility, including telecommunications, energy, transport, education, and training. The Minister for Trade has primary carriage of Australia’s approach to trade policy.

Question 2

See the answer to Question 1.

Question 3

The roles and functions of the PC, NCC and ACCC are set out in their enabling legislation. The PC monitors and evaluates progress in reforms across the nation and, through government-commissioned projects and public inquiries, identifies and makes recommendations on reform options and possible adjustment mechanisms. The NCC assesses Commonwealth and State efforts in competition reforms. It also conducts inquiries and makes recommendations on specific reform areas referred to it by Commonwealth and State governments (e.g., on postal issues). The NCC also makes recommendations on access to essential infrastructure as part of the national competition policy agreements between the Commonwealth and the States. The ACCC administers the trade practices legislation and undertakes functions relating to price surveillance, including the holding of public inquiries and making recommendations to the Government on pricing efficiency. All three bodies maintain close liaison with governments and non-government organisations having an interest in structural reform issues.

Question 4

There are industry associations such as the National Farmers’ Federation, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that maintain contact with the governments and their agencies on issues of interest to the associations. These issues usually include general macroeconomic matters and structural reform issues. These associations monitor progress in reform (especially in areas of particular relevance to their members), undertake research on policy options and often approach governments with these options.

Question 5

The Committee on Regulatory Reform has representation at officials’ level from all Australian jurisdictions. Its main role is to facilitate national reviews of legislation that restricts competition. This role has arisen from the National Competition Policy initiative.

Question 6

The Productivity Commission regularly publishes papers on structural reforms and a comprehensive list of the reforms over the years. The NCC also documents progress in implementing competition policies in its annual reports. The ACCC publishes a newsletter in relation to its activities as well as reports on major inquiries into market conduct. The industry associations occasionally publish their assessment of structural reforms.

Question 7

The Productivity Commission publishes reports on the performance of government enterprises and on performance indicators for government-provided or sponsored services. It also provides national and international comparisons of the performance of key Australian industries, primarily economic infrastructure and government services, to help inform the community about significant performance gaps and areas for further reform.

Where relevant, the Commission uses estimates of Effective Rate of Assistance to sectors to gauge the scope for reform, especially in manufacturing and agricultural industries.

Australia has been active in the OECD work to compile a set of tariff and non-tariff indicators for OECD countries for international and domestic surveillance purposes.

Australia is participating in the OECD exercise to construct regulatory indicators and database for OECD countries, as part of the OECD-wide program on regulatory reform.

* * * *

Austria

Question 1

There is no main responsibility. Each ministry pursues its competence, which includes also the design and the surveillance of structural policies. The Federal Chancellery (Prime Minister) is entitled to coordinate structural policy. Structural policy important for the overall economic performance is pursued by the following "key ministries": Finance (financial services and capital markets, tax policy), Economic Affairs (trade professions, energy, mining, competition policy, industrial policy), Transport (Telekom, road transport, rail transport, postal service), Agriculture (agriculture, water supply, forests), Federal Chancellery (zoning and land use, public procurement). In addition, some competences are situated at lower levels of government (Länder: e.g. longer shopping-hours, housing policies). It is recalled that most areas in the field of structural policy are subject to EU-regulations and directives.

Question 2

Most of the "key"-ministries do have economic policy divisions or divisions with a certain economic "thinking". It is, however, fair to say that the divisions, which do the legal work, dominate the process of structural change. Issues, such as the current economic projections typically play no role on the timing and sequencing of reforms (EU-legislation is also not driven by economic projections).

Question 3

a) Competencies of ministries are regulated by a special law ( Bundesministeriengesetz). The law is designed to minimize the overlap of competencies. The economic policy units in the ministries have thus typically a broad range of issues, as their scope is already narrowed by the Bundesministeriengesetz. The involvement of those "horizontal" units is in part "supply-driven", but is also at the request of the minister.

b) and c) Those units typically cover all aspects of structural reform.

d) Evaluation of structural reform is typically outsourced to economic research institutes. If such evaluation is done by ministries, it is seldom published.

Question 4

The Economic Chamber, the Chamber of Labour, the Chamber of Agriculture, the Chambers of the free professions (laywers, medicine doctors, pharmacies, civil engineers, etc) are lobbying in the process of structural reform. They have the right to submit an opinion on each law drafted by the government. Thus, typically they have (several) units which deal with all the issues raised in Question 3.

Question 5

a) and b) On a permanent basis there is no working group. As each draft law requires unanimity in the ministerial council to become a government proposal, there are (longer or shorter) ad-hoc consultations between the ministries at civil servants' level.

c) The ministries are in permanent contact with the regulated sectors. Academic institutions are consulted for specific questions (outsourced advise).

d) The social partners have a permanent committee ( Beirat für Wirtschafts- und Sozialfragen), which studies economic policy questions, including structural policies. Sometimes the government asks for an opinion of this committee (e.g. budget consolidation, tax reform).

Question 6

The main publication is the " Wirtschaftsbericht der Bundesregierung", which is published annually (mid-July). This report is drafted by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and with inputs from all ministries. There is no english version available. This report gives a broad overview about macro and micro-policies.

Question 7

There is no regular set of indicators, also there is no quantitatively defined "structural policy". Benchmarking has become an instrument in the last few years in some areas, but is still in an infant stage.

* * * *

Canada

Question 1

Canada, like Australia and the US is a federation. Therefore, both federal and provincial/territorial governments have responsibilities (under the constitution) for policies in different areas, which would include structural policies. However, neither level of government can operate in isolation of the other.

Within the federal government, it is easier to determine the ministry(ies) that have responsibility for macroeconomic policy than for structural or microeconomic policies. Indeed, in Canada we would argue that structural polices include social departments (referred to here as Ministries to avoid confusion with other countries’ responses), not just microeconomic policy.

Overall, in the context of other responses that you have received, you would probably want to classify Canada as a decentralized model (and becoming ever more so), but with a corresponding increased emphasis on mechanisms to ensure policy coordination and coherence -- both within the federal government and with other levels of government. The number of players addressing an issue depends on the policy field, and how horizontal is the issue.

The Minister of Finance is the key economic advisor to the Cabinet and Prime Minister. Clearly the Department of Finance is in charge of macroeconomic, and thus budgetary and taxation polices, as well as financial market policy. As economic advisor, the department has an interest in other structural issues, and how they interact with each other and on the economy. To the extent that policies and programs make a claim on fiscal resources, their interest is clear. To the extent that they build in financial risk, their interest is also clear.

As for other structural issues, in reality the Finance interest is more in a coordination role and in a challenge function, rather than being responsible for initiating changes. These responsibilities are taken by other Ministers -- although never in isolation from implications for the broader policy agenda and other ministries.

Coordination and coherence is provided through integrated and collaborative agenda management -- whether at the political level (through cabinet and cabinet committees), at the federal bureaucratic level (through co-ordinating committees of departmental or Ministry deputies or other officials), or federal-provincially (through meetings of first leaders - PM and premiers -- Finance or other Ministers, or officials) or with other players and the public.

Other key central agencies are the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), which takes a similar interest in issues as does Finance (but from a financial management point of view, as well as the integrity of programs and management in relation to policy priorities), and which is also responsible for the management of the government itself. As such, TBS would clearly be responsible for many public sector structural reforms, as well as other tools of other reforms (i.e., cost recovery policies, regulation, and the like).

As well, the Privy Council Office (PCO) could be considered as the Central Agency to other Central Agencies, as well as to other departments. The Clerk of the Privy Council is Secretary to the Cabinet and Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister. Thus, as Secretariat to the Clerk, the PCO is responsible for the coherence of policies with each other and with the government’s agenda, overall. The PCO plays a challenge/facilitation/ coordination role with any number of federal government departments, and provides an oversight function on relations between federal and provincial governments.

Question 2

See above. In the Department of Finance, the key federal Economic Ministry, different branches (the largest sub-departmental unit) are responsible for different policy areas -- i.e. economic and fiscal policy; tax policy; financial sector policy; social policy and federal provincial relations; economic development policy; international and trade policy. Budget making is led by the economic and fiscal policy branch, in conjunction with other branches, and the entire department would be working with other relevant Ministries in policy development including in structural areas, when these are being delivered through the Budget. Not all policy changes are delivered through the Budget -- especially those that do not require budgetary resources.

But, as noted, despite the policy interests of Finance, policy development in other specific microeconomic or social sectors (which affect the economy, all the same) are the responsibility of other Ministers.

As far as the Privy Council Office is concerned, the organization of the department is oriented around policy functions (operations, communications etc) rather than policy sectors (Fiscal, trade etc) as in Finance. For example:

Economic Development Policy and Social Development Policy

Secretariat to Cabinet Committees on Economic Union and Social Union, respectively, as well as other operational matters related to programs.

Intergovernmental Affairs– relations with provinces.

Plans and Consultations: which includes Planning and Priorities (Cabinet Management, overall Agenda Management) and Liaison Secretariat for Macroeconomic Policy (Analysis, coordination and facilitation etc for micro-and macroeconomic policy and budget planning in particular).

In some respects, all of these groups, as well as Machinery of Government , would be involved in structural reform issues.

Question 3

Departments responsible for specific policy changes would be responsible for all parts of the policy development process, although they would likely not perform these in isolation of other interested parties, including central agencies [who are interested either in fiscal and other economic consequences (Finance), implications for the overall policy agenda (Privy Council Office -- PCO) or integrity of existing programming and other management issues (Treasury Board Secretariat -- TBS)].

Sponsoring Ministers would be responsible for surveillance of policy needs (as well as regular surveillance undertaken by central agencies or other related departments), proposals for reform, policy preparation and evaluation.

There are mechanisms and structures within the federal government to ensure policy coherence and monitoring, which are generally in the purview of the central agencies. Some of these are processes (i.e. budget process run by Finance), regular reporting to parliament under ministerial accountability (run by TBS) and co-ordinating committee structures (run by PCO). PCO also is the Secretariat to Cabinet and its committees.

The Auditor General’s Office also does some review of policy and program reforms, and makes recommendations for improvements to the government.

Question 4

The federal government has put in place an interesting initiative -- a series of networks of policy departments – for better cross cutting policy research, called the Policy Research Initiative (PRI). (See www. Policy Research.gc.ca for full information and reports). The networks of departments are :

Growth;
Human development;
Social cohesion;
Globalization.

As well a number of cross-network networks are being established. The first was the knowledge-based economy and society (KBES), and new networks are one for sustainable development and one for social/economic aspects of productivity. Others are being developed as needed.

The networks are important in increasing policy capacity in the federal government, in ensuring coherence in policy research, in developing a strong outreach program (with players outside of government and internationally). Coherence is introduced by the broad nature of the networks, which report their findings and recommendations annually through the Clerk of the Privy Council (the federal government’s most senior civil servant, and advisor to the Prime Minister).

There are also a large number of independent think tanks and institutions all across Canada which provide analysis, and policy prescriptions to the federal (and indeed provincial) governments.

Question 5

The specific structures and mechanisms described below are not restricted to the structural area alone, but certainly do facilitate discussion of structural policy issues.

At the federal political level, is the Cabinet and two regular policy committees -- Economic Union and Social Union -- which often meet jointly on cross-cutting issues. These committees (and Cabinet) meet weekly.

At the officials’ level, and under the leadership of the Privy Council Office are a series of Co-ordinating Committees of Deputy Ministers -- CCDM -- (DMs are most senior departmental officials -- and the liaison between the public service and the Minister):

1) CCDM (Budget): Finance, Treasury Board Secretariat and chaired by Clerk of the Privy Council -- which meets as required

2) CCDM (Policy): about a half a dozen Deputy Ministers, chaired by the Clerk of the Privy Council -- which meets weekly

3) CCDM (Management): Treasury Board Secretariat and other relevant deputies, and chaired by the Clerk of the Privy Council) -- which meets as required

4) Deputies’ breakfast -- a regular weekly meeting of all deputies, chaired by the Clerk of the Privy Council to debrief weekly developments in Cabinet and other fora and discuss cross cutting issues

5) federal provincial meetings as noted above.

Question 6

Other than regular annual reports of Ministries to Parliament -- related to the supply and expenditure cycle, most reporting is ad hoc and issues based.

For example, in 1994 -- at the beginning of this government’s first mandate -- a series of policy documents were released. These contained diagnostics of issues and analysis of options, and were intended to provide a basis for public consultation:

Agenda Jobs and Growth: A New framework for Economic Policy

Agenda Jobs and Growth: Improving Social Security in Canada

Agenda Jobs and Growth: Creating a Healthy Fiscal Climate

Agenda Jobs and Growth: Building a More Innovative Economy

Ministers are increasingly developing documents for internal discussion at Cabinet, that are subsequently made available to the public (mainly through web sites on the Internet).

Annually, in March or April, The President of the Treasury Board tables in parliament, as part of the expenditure management and business planning process, a series of documents (one for each department) which take a longer term strategic view on issues being addressed in the ministry at large. These documents -- called RPPs -- Reports on Plans and Priorities -- lay out the policy priorities of the department under the funding levels resulting from the just tabled February Budget.

In addition, in September/October, the President of the Treasury Board tables an Annual Report to parliament, which further lays out a report of federal activities, which lays out an overall review of federal activities, including performance indicators. These are not restricted to, but certainly include, structural policy areas.

As well, Annual budget papers include extensive reviews of structural and other issues as a backdrop to announcements in various policy areas.

Question 7

Canada has not produced economy-wide performance measurement indicators other than those regularly published by Statistics Canada as part of its regular statistical reporting. These data do not include ERAs for instance, such as are in use in some countries like Australia.

However, as noted above, the federal government is moving towards results-based reporting -- even as part of the regular reporting to parliament -- in order to modernize policy management from an inputs-based to a results based management regime. These indicators are in the hands of relevant policy departments.

The PRI (mentioned above) is, in the context of their research, developing various indicators that help describe policy challenges, and which form part of their annual reports on policy research and policy challenges.

* * * *

Czech Republic

Question 1

There is no single government body vested with main responsibility. Each ministry pursues its competence, which includes also the design and the surveillance of respective part of structural policies. Ministry of Finance is the principal ministry horizontal competencies and has main responsibility for macroeconomic policies (including macroeconomic forecasting) and for many areas of structural reforms (e.g. taxation, budget, financial markets). Other structural policies important for the overall economic performance are pursued by the following ministries: Ministry for Labour and Social affairs (e.g. labour market, pension reform), Ministry for Industry and Trade (e.g. industrial policy, energy policy, trade policy, support of SME´s), Ministry of Transport (e.g. telecommunications, rail transport, postal service), Ministry of Agriculture (e.g. agricultural policy), Ministry for Regional Development (e.g. housing policies). No systematic structural policy surveillance has been arranged. Answering e.g. to the questionnaires by international organisations is organised on ad hoc basis. The government has established the RASES, the Council for the Socio-economic Strategies in 1999. The Council is an advisory body which will co-ordinate the dialogue on macroeconomic and structural policies among central and regional levels.

Question 2

There are not a specific departments or units at the ministries responsible for structural reforms. Some of the “key“ ministries (including Ministry of Finance) have economic policy divisions or divisions with a certain economic “thinking“ which reflects macroeconomic or general impacts of structural reforms. The budget department of Ministry of Finance evaluates budgetary impacts of structural reforms. But it is true, that the divisions, which do policy preparation and the legal work, dominate the process of structural change. Issues, such as the EU accession, play important role on the timing and sequencing of reforms as a part of medium term economic strategy.

Question 3

Competencies of ministries and other central offices are regulated by a special law (Competency Law). The law is designed to describe competencies of ministries for policies, but there is not a specific or explicit definition of responsibilities as concerns structural reforms. Evaluation of structural reforms is typically product of economic research institutions or private companies. Evaluation of the progress achieved in the field of structural reform done by ministries is purpose oriented mainly and as such it is not published regularly.

Question 4

Trade Unions and unions of entrepreneurial/employers as the Confederation of Industry, Economic Chamber, Chamber of Agriculture, Associations (of banks, pension funds, investment funds, insurance companies etc) are lobbying in the process of structural reforms. They have the right to submit an opinion on relevant law and policy statements drafted by the government. Usually they have something like „economic policy“ unit which deal with the issues raised in Question 3.

Question 5

On a permanent basis there are working groups or permanent committees on the area of structural policy established on Tri-party basis. Ad hoc working groups are sometimes appointed when structural reforms in some area are considered to be necessary. Of course as each draft law requires unanimity in the Legal Council and cabinet meeting to become a government proposal, there are regularly consultations among the ministries at civil servants´ level. Ministries are in permanent contact with the regulated sectors. Academic institutions are consulted for specific questions. As mentioned, the social partners have a permanent committee (so called “tripartita“) which discusses economic and social policy questions, including structural policies.

Question 6

There are no regular documents in the structural policy area. However, in medium term surveys as well as in sectorial documents many structural policy topics have been dealt with. This year important documents have been adopted by the government: Report of the State of the Czech Society and Economic Strategy and Economic Strategy of EU Accession. These deals with many structural reforms and structural policy aspects; in course of preparation of these documents the government has discussed and proved a set of the medium term policies of structural nature.

Question 7

There is no regular set of indicators used for surveillance purposes, also there are no standards defined neither quantitatively nor qualitatively used for structural policies regular evaluations. Thus, structural policy indicators are not followed systematically. There are some indicators published by Statistical Office as part of its regular statistical reporting and some indicators published by ministries on their web sites.

* * * *

Denmark

Question 1

The Ministry of Finance is generally responsible for the formulation and surveillance of structural policy initiatives. Specific policy initiatives are usually prepared in conjunction with the relevant ministry, e.g. the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Business Affairs, The Ministry of Labour or the Ministry of Education.

Question 2

No specific unit within the Ministry of Finance is assigned to the task of structural policy. On the contrary, the responsibility of structural policy initiatives in a given area rests with the division, which is also responsible for budget policy in that area. E.g. the responsibility for labour market reform rests with the division responsible for budget policy of the Ministry of Labour. In the Ministry of Finance, there are 8 such divisions.

Structural policy formulation is organised around three kinds of approaches: Benchmarking, both at the micro level and macro level, macrostructural analysis of e.g. labour markets or aggregate savings and finally sectoral analysis.

In practice, most structural policy initiatives are considered in close connection with the overall macroeconomic strategy, which means that the Ministry's macroeconomic division plays a central role in structural policy formulation.

Question 3

It is explicitly defined, that together with the responsibility of budget policy in a given area, each division also have the responsibility for structural policy initiatives in that area. The responsibilities both covers structural surveillance, including identifying possible structural reforms, preparing and proposing reform and evaluation of reforms.

Question 4

The so-called Economic Council, which is an independent public institution, carries out structural surveillance and does also propose reforms in specific areas. The presidency of the Economic Council is shared among three professors of economics, who participate on a current basis in the public debate on economic policy. The Economic Council publishes a report twice a year.

The Social Research Institute is also an independent institution, which carry out structural analyses, particular in the labour market area and broader social area.

Question 5

No permanent committees or working groups in the structural policy are exists.

Question 6

The annual Finansredegørelse (Separate summary in English: Medium Term Economic Survey) by the Ministry of Finance is the main, regular government document on structural policy. A Structural Monitoring System for Denmark, cf. below, is another important document in the structural policy area. Other ministries prepare regular documents, e.g. The Ministry of Business and Industry Erhvervsredegørelse.

Question 7

In April 1997 the Danish government published "A Structural Monitoring System for Denmark". It was essentially a benchmarking exercise in which the Danish performance in a wide range of areas relevant for growth and welfare were compared to the performance in 7 other industrialised countries. An updated and broader version of the Structural Monitoring System is expected to be published in the first half of 1999.

Standard structural indicators, e.g. the public sector's structural budget balance and estimates of NAWRU, are produced by the Ministry of Finance and used for policy surveillance purposes.

* * * *

Finland

Question 1

Each ministry is responsible on structural policy in its field. So Ministry of Trade and Industry is mainly responsible on competition policy, Ministry of Labour on labour markets etc. Deregulation of financial markets and tax reform are on the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance (financial market department and tax department). Ministry of Finance has taken charge also on some reforms which do not belong clearly to the field of any ministry. No systematic structural policy surveillance has been arranged. Answering e.g. to the questionnaires by international organisations is organised on ad hoc basis.

Question 2

I refer to the former answer. In the Economics Department of the Ministry of Finance there is a small structural policy unit which, however, has a lot of other responsibilities, especially mediumterm economic assessments and evaluation of medium-term economic policy lines.

Question 3

The task of this unit is to coordinate work on medium and long-term issues in the Ministry of Finance which is performed on a wider basis, also in other departments as the Economics Department as the first answer points out. In the connection of medium-term work also possible structural reforms are identified and proposed. The reforms that are deemed necessary by the Government are set to wider preparation. Depending on the topic the preparation is often done under the supervision of the ministry concerned with wide participation of various economic policy partners.

Question 4

None though propositions for reforms may come from such bodies.

Question 5

There are no permanent committees on the area of structural policy. Instead, temporary committees or working groups are often appointed when structural reforms in some area are considered to be necessary.

Question 6

There are no regular documents in the structural policy area. However, in many medium and long term surveys as well as in many sectoral documents many structural policy topics has been dealt with (these documents are mostly in Finnish only). In this year a benchmark report on Finnish competitiveness has been published in English, too.

Question 7

Structural policy indicators are not followed systematically. The benchmarking exercise mentioned in the previous answer is an ad hoc exercise. However, the work is still continuing in order to find measures to eliminate weaknesses in the Finnish competitiveness.

* * * *

France

Question 1

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industrial Affairs.

Question 2

There is not a specific department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs responsible for structural reforms. More generally, it is the task of the Department of Economic Forecast (La Direction de la Prévision) to advice the Minister in all matters concerning economic questions. Hence, the Department of Economic Forecast coordinates, for example, the preparation of the report concerning economic reform, requested by the European Commission, in connection with the surveillance of structural reforms within the European Union. Furthermore, the Department of Economic Forecast is involved in giving macroeconomic forecasts and advising the Minister in macroeconomic policy matters.

Question 3

The Department of Economic Forecast do not have the authority to implement structural reforms, but it may, on its own initiative or at the request of the Minister, identify, propose and evaluate all structural measures.

Question 4

Private economic institutions and the administration linked to the Parliament (les services du Parlement) may analyse structural reforms.

Question 5

The Commissariat of Planning (Commissariat Général du Plan), the Council of Economic Analyses (le Conseil d’Analyse Economique) connected to the Prime Minister and the National Accounting Commission (la Commission des Comptes de la Nation) connected to the Ministry of Economic Affairs regularly prepare reports on structural questions after having consulted the public administration, independent economists, and the social partners concerned.

Question 6

The report on economic reforms in France.

Question 7

There do not exist such indicators.

Note: Unofficial translation from French.

* * * *

Germany

Question 1

The responsibility for structural policy is divided between several ministries in Germany. The most prominent in this respect are the Federal Ministry of Economics, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Finance. No body always has the main responsibility. It depends on the specific issue of structural policy being considered; thus the main responsibility for the financing of incentive programmes lies for example with the Federal Ministry of Finance, while the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is primarily responsible for issues of structural reform of pensions.

Question 2

In the case of the Federal Ministry of Finance, it is presently Directorate-General I which is responsible for promoting economic development. Directorate-General I is the Directorate-General of the Federal Ministry of Finance which is responsible for general fiscal policy matters. This is also where fiscal and macroeconomie forecasts and projections are produced.

Question 3

Many of the proposals for possible structural reforms are drafted in those Directorates-General of the above mentioned ministries which are responsible for general policy issues, and many other such proposals are prosented to the ministries by parliament. Normally, the responsibility for all levels of the reform does not then lie with a single Division but is spread among several Divisions. Thus a Division responsible for general policy issues may have the job of evaluating the political effects of a reform, while the appropriate technical Division is in charge of working out the practical details of the reform.

Question 4

The parliament, the Board of Experts for the Assessment of General Economic Trends, and those economic research institutes which are responsible for producing reports on the economy.

Question 5

There are no permanent committees or working groups. The Board of Experts for the Assessment of General Economic Trends submits its annual macroeconomic report. The research institutes present their reports in the form of a spring report and an autumn report.

Question 6

The above mentioned reports and the German government's annual economic report.

Question 7

No fixed set of indicators exists. So far benchmarking is used only in isolated cases.

* * * *

Greece

Question 1

The Ministry of National Economy in co-operation with the Economic Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Development have the main responsibility for structural policy.

Question 2

This task is mainly assigned to the General Directorate for Economic Policy and the Council of Economic Advisers. The General Directorate for Economic Policy has many other tasks such as macroeconomic forecasting whereas the Council of Economic Advisers is mainly an advisory body to the Minister of National Economy on all economic policy issues.

Question 3

The General Directorate for Economic Policy is mainly responsible for structural surveillance and partly for the preparation of structural reforms under the instruction of the General Secretary of the Ministry of National Economy who is responsible for proposing the reforms. The Council of Economic Advisers in close co-operation with the General Directorate and the General Secretary will usually prepare, propose and evaluate structural reforms as well as evaluate policy coherence.

Question 4

The Center for Economic Research and Planning is a semi-public research center that is active in structural surveillance and in evaluating policy coherence and structural reforms. Outside the government, the most important body which deals with evaluating policy coherence and structural reforms is IOBE that is a research center financed by the Confederation of Greek Industrialists.

Question 5

The most important permanent committees in the structural policy area are:

  1. The Economic Policy Committee (different ministries).
  2. The Inter-Ministerial Committee for Privatisation.
  3. The Economic and Social Committee (major social partners).

Question 6

The main regular documents that exist in the structural policy area are:

Government Documents:

  1. The 1998 Update of the Hellenic Convergence Programme 1998-2001.
  2. The National Action Plan for Employment (annual)
  3. Progress Report on Economic Reform (annual)

Non-government documents:

Paratiritirio (Observatory), Center for Economic Research and Planning (annual)

Question 7

For policy surveillance purposes a set of short term structural indicators is used that is produced by the National Statistical Office. Benchmarking is not extensively used.

* * * *

Hungary

Question 1

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has the main responsibility for the structural policy. At the same time for some areas of structural policy (e.g. tax reform) the Ministry of Finance bears the responsibility.

Question 2

Within the Ministry of Economic Affairs an assistant state secretary directs the activity of departments assigned to this task. Among them the Department of Development plays the main role in forming structural policy. It does not take part in shaping budget policy and macroeconomic forecasting; for these fields other bodies are responsible. The department employs 26 persons, of whom 3 work with administrative questions.

Question 3

The responsibility for structural policy in this unit is defined explicitly. The department is responsible for evaluating policy coherence and for forming structural processes in the real economy.

Question 4

Several research institutes are involved in preparing and evaluating structural reform.

Question 5

Mainly ad hoc committees deal with preparing certain tasks of structural policy, in which different ministries and academic research institutes take part. There are also permanent committees in some special fields.

Question 6

There are quarterly and annual assessments of structural policy. These documents are presented to the Government as information.

Question 7

The Central Statistical Office calculates structural indicators for the industries and regions. Beside these the sectoral ministries make regular surveys of special indicators in their fields. Some research institutions prepare prognoses inthe area of structural policy.

* * * *

Iceland

Question 1

No single Ministry in Iceland has the main responsibility for structural policy.

Question 2

In view of answer to question 1, this question is not applicable.

Question 3

In view of answer to question 1, this question is not applicable.

Question 4

There are no such bodies outside Government that have evaluation of strucural reforms as a major task. The National Economic Institute, for instance, has done some evaluation of reforms. But that neither is its major task nor has it evaluated all structural reforms.

Question 5

Issues of structural reforms are assigned to the Ministries responsible for relevant areas. As regards the important issue of privatization a permanent committee exists, under auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office. Committee members are drawn from outside as well as inside the government.

Question 6

No regularily published documents on the issue exist in Iceland.

Question 7

Again, no. There are no structural indicators for structural policy surveillance in Iceland. We are, however, quite interested in the OECD’s work on structural reforms which hopefully will result in benchmarking exercise for member countries.

* * * *

Ireland

Question 1

No one Department would have overall responsibility for structural policy making. Structural policy formulation and implementation, is generally the responsibility of the relevant sectoral Departments (Ministries), e.g. Finance, Agriculture, Enterprise, Environment, etc., in some cases assisted by regulatory quangos, such as The Competition Authority.

Departments and quangos would of course be subject to overall national policy on structural reform as decided upon and directed by Government.

Question 2

As stated, no one Department would have over-all responsibility for structural policy making. The Department of Finance would have a primary role in taxation reform while it would have a shared role with the Department of Enterprise and Employment and the Central Bank in financial de-regulation. The taxation reform role would be closely integrated with overall budget policy in the Department. In other areas, as indicated above, the relevant Department would have the primary responsibility.

Question 3

The units responsible for structural policy making and implementation in the various Departments would undertake the activities (a) to (d) listed in the question.

Question 4

The important bodies would generally be within the Government, i.e. the various

Departments or Ministers.

Question 5

A notable feature of institutional arrangements in Ireland is the strong emphasis on social partnership involving the Government, trade unions, the employer organisations and the voluntary sector, including the representatives of the unemployed. This social partnership is underpinned by a research body, the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), on which the various interests are represented.

Reports by the NESC have been highly influential in setting the agenda for negotiations on national agreements on pay and other national policy areas e.g. taxation, social inclusiveness, structural reform, etc.

By this consultative and participative process, a large degree of consensus is aimed at, as expressed in formal national agreements that have been negotiated at three yearly intervals since the first agreement in 1987.

Question 6

The NESC publishes a seminal examination of the Irish economy every three years as a prelude to the national agreement negotiations. A critical theme of the examinations is the need to promote national competitiveness and to undertake such measures, including structural reform, as are necessary in this regard. The National Competitiveness Council, on which the social partners, including the Government, also are represented, publishes an annual report that highlights particular areas of concern where structural reform is required.

As a typical small open economy Ireland has to be very aware of global developments. Policy developments in EU/OECD on structural reform of product, capital and labour markets are followed closely. EU requirements on completing the Single Market in areas such as telecommunications continue to be particularly influential.

Question 7

The National Competitiveness Council's annual report includes comparative benchmarking of Ireland's performance vis-a-vis other EU/OECD countries in various areas.

* * * *

Italy

Question 1

In Italy there is not a Ministry or a Governmental Body charged with the responsibility of supervising the process of structural reform. Reforms result from the interaction of different Ministries: Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Industry and The Department for Social Affairs play an important role for labour, product market and social reforms. Treasury and Bank of Italy trigger banking and financial market reforms. Pensions reforms have been introduced mainly through the action of the Treasury and of the Ministry of Labour, but with an important role played directly by the Prime Minister in the context of the ”concertazione” with social partners. In general the Treasury plays a key role on the process. For the reforms in the public administration area (including public employment and general framework for regulatory reform) there is a special Departement operating in the Office of the Prime Minister (Dipartimento della Funzione Pubblica) headed by a Minister. Last year, after the combination of The Ministry of the Treasury and the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning (and the creation of the new Ministry of Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning in the framework of reforming public administrations also through combination of Ministries) a new Department for development and cohesion (DPS) has been establiched. DPS overviews and co-ordinates policies for Mezzogiorno and more in general for territorial development.

The table below summarises the different responsibilities in the field of structural reform.

Public Administration and Public Employment

Department for Public Administration (Dipartiment per la funzione pubblica)
Ministry of the Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning

General Framework for Deregulation and regulatory reform

Department for Public Administration
(Dipartimento per la funzione pubblica)

Labour Market

Ministry of Labour
Ministry of the Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning

Education and Training

Ministry of Labour
Ministry of Education

Social Security

Ministry of the Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning
Ministry of Labour
Department for Social Affairs

Health Policy

Ministry of Health
Ministry of the Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning

Social Assistance

Department of Social Affairs
Ministry of Treasury

Product Market (Industry and Trade)

Ministry of Industry
Antitrust Authority

Privatisations

Ministry of Treasury

Energy

Ministry of Industry
Authority for Energy

Telecommunications

Ministry of Communications
Authority for Telecommunications

Banking av Financial Market

Ministry of Treasury
Bank of Italy
CONSOB

Tax Reform (includning tax collection)

Ministry of Finance

Budget Reform

Ministry of the Treasury, Budget and Economic
Planning

Question 2

The main responsibilities for macroeconomic policy (including forecasting) and budget policy are in the Treasury, which has an important part also in the process of structural reform. The Prime Minister offices are now reinforcing their capacity of economics analysis (the procedures are ongoing to hire 35 young highly qualified economists).

Question 3

See above.

Question 4

Outside the Government the role of the Antitrust Authority should not be underestimated. Special authorities are in charge of controlling regulatory aspects in the liberalisation process of specific sectors (energy, telecommunications). The important role of Bank of Italy, which is responsible for banking and financial market supervision (with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the CONSOB), has also to be mentioned.

Question 5

In specific cases (for example, pension reform) a special commission has been create to follow the implementation of the reform and to advice on possible changes that need to be introduced to improve the system. In general the co-operation with social partners is an important element for the process of structural reform.

Question 6

There are no official documents devoted only to the implementation of structural reforms. A broad descriptions of what is going on can be found in the Report on the situation of the country (Relazione Generale sulla situazione economica del Pacsc) published yearly by the Treasury (end of March), in the Annual Report of Bank of Italy (end of May) and in the Annual report of the Statistical Office (ISTAT, end of April). Other bodies publish documents and reports on specific topics.

Question 7

There is not a unique set of indicators for structural policy. There are several indicators published regularly on specific sectors and markets interested by the process of structural reform. In a few cases, as for the pension reform or many labour market reforms, ad hoc statistics are published that can be used to monitor the ongoing process.

* * * *

Luxembourg

Question 1

The responsibility for structural policy coordination is shared between several ministries, notably by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Question 2

There are no such specific departments.

Question 3

There is no such unit explicitly defined.

Question 4

None.

Question 5

A coordination between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs as well as the Statistical Office (STATEC) takes place on a regular basis in the framework of the European Council’s economic policy coordination requirements.

Question 6

None.

Question 7

There are no such indicators at present, but we look forward to future work being done on this topic at the OECD.

* * * *

The Netherlands

The answers to the questions asked focus on the most important part of structural policy in the Netherlands; the operation Market function, Deregulation and Quality of Legislation (MDW-operation in Dutch). This does not mean that structural policy is restricted to the MDW-operation. General information about structural policy in the Netherlands is given by the Progress report on structural reform. This report includes information about the comprehensive tax reform, which the current cabinet has planned, and about deregulation of financial markets.

Question 1

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Justice co-ordinate the MDW-operation. The main goals of the MDW-operation are to reinforce market functioning by eliminating unnecessary competition-limiting regulation and to create scope for market players to accept responsibility and make choices.

Question 2

At the ‘working level’, for every subject in the MDW-operation a special project team is formed within the ministries of Justice, Economic Affairs and other Ministries (dependent on the subject). Supporting and preparing the decision making process is in the hands of a commission of high-ranked civil servants.

The day-to-day management of the operation is closely co-ordinated by the two permanent support desks of the Ministries of Justice and Economic Affairs, the co-ordinating ministries. The support desk at the Ministry of Economic Affairs is separated from other divisions, while the desk at the Ministry of Justice is part of the legislative division.

Question 3

The Cabinet has final responsibility for the MDW-operation. A special Ministerial Commission was formed for political direction of the operation. The Commission is chaired by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and the co-ordinating ministers (the Ministers of Justice and Economic Affairs) are the key members of the operation. But - reflecting the involvement of the entire Cabinet - other Cabinet members have a standing invitation to join. In practice other Ministers often take part in the decision making in the Commission. The Cabinet as a whole is responsible for structural surveillance, including identifying possible structural reforms, preparing and proposing structural reforms, evaluating policy coherence and evaluating structural reforms (options a,b,c,d). Special attention is given to the progress of implementing the outcome of the projects.

Question 4

The current Cabinet considers a more ‘client-oriented’ approach of the MDW-operation a high priority. In contrast to the method adopted in the MDW-operation during the former Cabinet, there is an orientation phase lasting some months before new projects are started. During this orientation phase topics for the MDW-operation are chosen in co-operation with organisations outside the government, such as (organisations representing) employers, employees, consumers and business sectors, as well as private citizens. In the advisory phase (following the orientation phase) these representatives are heard at the start and end of each project.

Question 5

Permanent committees involved in the MDW-operation are the Ministerial Commission (see 3) and the support desks (see 2). Although several organisations outside the government are closely involved in the MDW-operation (see 4), they don’t participate in a permanent committee. This improves the objective quality of the projects.

Question 6

About the MDW-operation in general, The Second Chamber of the States General (the parliament) receives an annual progress report; a letter about the implementation of project results, twice a year; an operation action plan, at the start of a series with new projects.

About each project, the Second Chamber of the States receives a project action plan; a project report; a letter of the cabinet; an implementation plan (plus complementary letters if necessary).

Question 7

There is no fixed set of economic indicators for the country for policy surveillance purposes. The government does include special indicators on two subjects the government aims to reduce the administrative burden for companies with 25%; the government tests each new law on its effects on environment, companies and maintainability.

Besides this, benchmarking on several main economic indicators is extensively used in the structural policy area. Benchmarking studies have been produced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1995 and 1997. There are plans for a new benchmarking study later this year.

* * * *

Norway

Question 1

The Ministry of Finance has an overall responsibility for structural policy. However, policy formulation in different sectors is the authority of the relevant ministries.

Structural policy measures, i.a. tax policy, labour market policy, market regulations and competition policy, fall under different ministries. Responsibility for tax policy and regulation of financial markets lies with The Ministry of Finance. Regulation in other markets is the responsibility of the relevant sectorial ministries, e.g. the electricity market of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, transport services and telecommunications of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, etc. Competition policy is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration, excluding the primary industries. This ministry is also responsible for labour market policies and measures to improve administrative efficiency of the public sector.

(Answers to questions 2 and 3 pertain the overall responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.)

Question 2

The Structural Policy and Petroleum Section, in the Tax Policy Department, is responsible for overall structural policy. The Budget Departement will usually be involved in matters relating to specific sectors, and the Economics Department concerning the labour market.

The Ministry of Finance is also responsible for the state budget, economic policy, tax policy, tax law and financial market regulations.

Question 3

Structural policy is defined by the strategy plan of the Ministry of Finance, as part of its responsibility for economic coordination. The tasks that pertain to structural policy has not been formalised. On a regular basis the Structural Policy Section is concerned mainly with structural surveillance (a) and, in a lesser degree, evaluating policy coherence (c). Preparing and proposing structural reforms (b) and evaluations (d) is clearly the responsibility of relevant sectorial ministries.

Question 4

There is no body outside the Government which is concerned with structural policy on an overall basis. However, a number of regulatory authorities have responsibilities which comprise structural policy reform:

  • Norwegian Competition Authority (Konkurransetilsynet)
  • The Banking, Insurance and Securities Commission of Norway (Kredittilsynet)
  • Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (Post- og teletilsynet)
  • Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (Norges vassdrags- og energiverk)
  • Norwegian Civil Aviation Administration (Luftfartsverket)

Question 5

There are no permant committees or working groups concerned with overall structural policy. A couple of commissions with relevance for structural policy are worth mentioning:

The Industrial Legislation Commission has been in existence since 1990. The members are civil servants, experts and industry representatives.

Recently a governmental commission, at the level of parliamentary secretaries, was appointed to deal with simplification of society on a broad basis.

Question 6

An overview of structural policy is presented in the yearly white paper on the National Budget, as a separate chapter. The presentation covers overall aims of structural policy, a survey of recent reforms and subsidies to the industries, and occasionally more in-depth studies.

Question 7

No comprehensive set of structural policy indicators has been developed.

Quantified measures relating to structural policy comprise only subsidies to the industries. The Ministry of Finance and Statistics Norway have been working at methods for including subsidies other than appropriations, e.g. subsidies through import duties and the tax system. An indicator for total subsidies is Effective Rates of Assistance (ERA). ERA-figures for Norwegian industries have been produced by Statistics Norway, on commission from the Ministry of Finance, for every second year from 1989.

* * * *

Poland

Poland’s transitional reform has started in the early 90’s. Since then many substantial changes have taken place leading to the conversion from central planed to market orientated economy in Poland.

The most significant achievements of this period are:

  1. rapid economic growth,
  2. trade bindings and co-operation with EU countries,
  3. growth of the entrepreneurship,
  4. reorientation from state to private owning enterprises,

environmental orientated approach,

  1. development of a foreign investment.

Polish aspirations to become a member of EU and adoption of obligations deriving from this including institutional, economic and law adjustments, have indicated some problems that Polish government must face in the new approach to the structural policy. In accordance to this requirements in 1997 there had been set out the Task Team for Structural Policy in Poland, which elaborated a report; ”Structural Policy in Poland in light of the future integration with the EU”, including the schedule of recommendations referring to: industrial, regional, privatisation, fiscal policies, labour market, liquidation of monopolies and innovation.

Concerning current political system in Poland, structural policy is not assigned to one particular body and it is accomplished by selected Polish Ministries e.g.:

  1. industrial and regional policy – Ministry of Economy,
  2. financial policy – Ministry of Finance,

privatisation policy – Ministry of the Treasury,

  1. agriculture policy – Ministry of Agriculture and Food,
  2. policy of labour market and employment – Ministry of Labour and Social Policy,
  3. transportation policy – Ministry of Transport and Maritime Economy.

In view of those circumstances I would like to attract your attention to the fact that the Ministry of Economy is not authorised to reply on your inquires listed in the questionnaire without the consultations and opinions of the other involved Ministries. At the same time, from my point of view, there should be some indication on the particular area of the structural policy that ought to be envisaed in the questinnaire, concerning Polish conditions and the definition of ”the structural policy” in the meaning of the OECD.

The Minister of Economy who is responsible for initiating and implementing of the policy of economic develop in Poland, also takes the responsibility for the structural policy, especially in the field of industrial and regional policy.

Nevertheless preparing and supervising the changes in the structural policy is the domain of a few departments in Ministry of Economy, which above their main scope of competitions are involved in the realisation of this policy:

  1. Department of Industrial Policy – responsible for the industrial policy and programs on its sectors, except for: mining industry, steel and iron metallurgy, non-iron metals, non-energetistic minerals and coke industry,
  2. Department of Energy – engineering policy and functioning of energetic systems in Poland,
  3. Department of Economic Strategy – evaluating of the policy of economic development and elaborating of medium and short – term programs concerning this development,
  4. Department of Regional Development – responsible for the overall regional policy,
  5. Department of Prognosis and Analysis – elaborating of the economic analyses and short – term prognosis, monitoring of processes of economic development.

Additional the Economic Committee of the Council of Ministries and the Committee of the Council of Ministers for Regional Policy and Sustainable Development are authorised to control and supervise structural policy in Poland.

I also find it relevant to inform you that the Ministry of Economy publishes annual reports, including basic data illustrating condition of Polish economy and all changes that are taking place in the overall economy, as well as in its individual parts (industry, trade) which have particular meaning in creating positive attitude towards further developments, especially in light of the forthcoming integration with the EU.

* * * *

Spain

Question 1

The Ministry of Economy and Finance. Others Ministries have responsabilities for their specific policy areas. For instance, the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs deals with employment and labour market policies. But, before enacting new policies in those areas, they have to be discussed (and agreed) with the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Question 2

Directorate General for Economic Policy and Promotion of Competition.

Yes, it has other responsibilities: macroeconomic forecasting; economic policy advice, international economic affairs, and the enforcement of competition policies.

Question 3

This unit has the responsibility, explicitly defined, for (b), (c) and (d).

The Ministries dealing with specfic structural policy areas have the explicitly defined responsibility for (a), although their conclusions have to be reviewed by that unit, which, by experience, also carries out some structural surveillance.

Question 4

Outside de Government, for activities (a), (c) and (d), the Economic and Social Council (formed by representatives from the Government, business organizations and trade unions).

The own business organizations and trade unions usually carry also out activities (a), (b), (c) and (d).

Question 5

(a) There are not permanent committees or working groups. There are many temporal ones. They are set up to deal with a specific structural policy issue and dissapear once they have produced the documents and conclusions they were asked to produce.

(b) The Interministerial Commission for Economy Affairs, with representation from the Ministries with responsibilities in economic policy areas. It meets every week and rewiews every proposal of new legislation in economic policy areas. The Minister of Economy and Fianance heads the meetings, which also cover structural policy strategy and macroeconomic issues. An average meeting will deal with 8-9 different issues.

(c) There are only temporal committees or working groups.

(d) The Economic and Social Council, as well as business organizations and trade unions have some permanent working groups in some structural policy areas.

Question 6

The Ministry of Economy and Finance publishes every year a Progress Report on the Reform of Goods, Services and Capital Markets. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs publishes every year an Employment Program. In addition, every Ministry dealing with structural economic policies publishes every year a Memory reviewing the main structural policy areas.

Of course, there are many regular public and private economic reviews and working papers, but they are not exclusively oriented towards structural policies.

Question 7

There does not exist a set of structural indicators for the country for policy

surveillance purposes.

Benchmarking is starting to be used, in very limited terms, in the structural policy area.

* * * *

Sweden

Question 1

The Ministry of Finance has a responsibility for an overall view of the structural policy within the Government. The main responsibility for each specific policy area (i.e labour market, education etc), lies on the respective ministry.

Question 2

The division for structural policy, in the Economics department has this task. The Economics department, but not the same division, is also responsible for macroeconomic forecasting and policy advice. But the responsibility for structural questions is shared among several departments in the ministry. Also the Budget department, the Fiscal affairs department and the Financial institutions and markets department have similar tasks within their fields.

Question 3

According to the plan of activity for the ministry of Finance, the Economics department shall, on request of the minister or on own initiative, identify and analyze different problems in the Swedish economy, and suggest appropriate measures. The Economics department should also carry out such analysis of proposals from other ministeries or public commissions.

Evaluation of the effects of a structural reform already carried out, is normally not made by the Ministeries, but by some of the public authorities.

Question 4

There is no body outside the Government with an overall responsibility for structural questions. There are public authorities with responsibilities in certain areas of structural policy. Examples are Institutet för utvärdering av arbetsmarknadspolitiken (Office of Labour Market Policy Evaluation), Statskontoret (Swedish Agency for Administrative Development), Riksrevisionsverket (The Swedish National Audit Office), Kommerkollegium (National Board of Trade), and Konkurrensverket (The Swedish Competition Authority). In some cases new reforms are proposed by the public authorities, occasionally on request of the Government. It is also normally the authorities that evaluates already realized structural reforms.

Question 5

There are no permanent groups working with overall structural questions. There do exist permanent groups with responsibility for certain issues. One example is Expertgruppen för studier i offentlig ekonomi (ESO, Expert group on studies in public economy).

Question 6

The main, regular, government document on structural policy is Långtidsutredningen (Medium Term Survey of the Swedish Economy). The latest was published in 1995 and the next is planned to be published during 1999. Långtidsutredningen is produced by the Economics department in the Ministry of Finance.

Question 7

There does not exist a set of structural indicators for surveillance purposes. Indicators do exist for certain macoreconomic variables as open unemployment, inflation, public finance and in the future employment ratio. Benchmarking in the structural policy area is not extensively used.

Further remarks

The Government was reorganized after the elections in September this year. In the new organization the new Ministry of Industry is responsible for areas earlier divided into the ministeries of labour, transportation and industry. It is said that the new ministry will have an important task in promoting economic growth. It is today unclear how this will affect the responsibility of structural policy issues.

* * * *

Switzerland

Question 1

Switzerland has 7 ministries (foreign policy, interior, justice, defence, finance, economy, infrastructure). The ministry of economics – and within this ministry – the office for economic developments and labour is responsible for structural policy. The office for foreign economic relations (active e.g. in areas such as WTO, NTB, economic integration), the office for agriculture and the office for professional education and technology are the other large offices within the ministry. The secretariat of the (independent) competition authority is also attached to the ministry of economics.

Question 2

Within the office for economic developments and labour 4 divisions were recently created – one for labour law and security at the working place, one for the unemployment insurance and active labour market policies, one for promotional activities with respect to Switzerland as a business location, and finally the division for general economic policies. Within this division, one unit makes macroeconomic forecasts and policy advise, one unit overviews labour market policy, while the third unit is in charge of structural reform and of elaborating the offices/ministries position with respect to proposals emerging from other ministries/offices on subjects of economic relevance (e.g. opening up of infrastructure markets).

Question 3

In principle, a), b), c) and d) should be covered by the unit in charge of structural policies. Limitations regarding staff imply however that a), b) c) and d) are of changing importance as time evolves. The preparation of specific measures of structural reform is done within the ministries and offices responsible for the sector under consideration (health = interior etc.).

Question 4

None, supposing that “bodies” does not make reference to political parties, lobbies, the media, the courts and the academic world.

Question 5

c) ; usually, when a programme of comprehensive reform is launched, an interministerial working group is installed by decision of the Federal Council (i.e. the Cabinet).

Question 6

The unit in charge of structural reform disposes of a limited credit which is used to order studies on particular subjects relevant for structural reform. The studies are published (see attached list). On particular occasions (the launching of a comprehensive reform programme or in response to a question transmitted formally by the legislative bodies) reports are sent to Parliament. For the future, we intend to submit Parliament every forth year a report giving an overview on ongoing structural change in the economy.

Question 7

The project foreseeing the creation of a set of structural indicators was never brought to maturity.

* * * *

United Kingdom

The responsibility for microeconomic interventions in the economy is divided between a number of departments. H.M. Treasury has among its objectives:

  • Secure high quality, cost-effective public services which deliver expenditure priorities and policies, including partnerships between the public and private sectors; and
  • expand economic and employment opportunity for all through productive investment, competition, better regulation and increased employability.

Although wider than structural policies as you have defined them, these objectives clearly encompass such policies. The Treasury combines responsibility for structural policies with a range of other activities, including budgetary policy and macroeconomic forecasting/lpolicy advice (your Question 2).

The implementation of structural policies will be the responsibility of other Departments, particularly the Department of trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). The DTI has a commitment to "work in partnership with business and the scientific community to ... support the endeavours of business to become as competitive as possible….”, and has a range of particular objectives, most of which can be construed as ”structural policies" and include:

Promote open and competitive markets;

encourage the development of a skilled and flexible labour labour market,

encourage investment, the pursuit of quality, and good management practice,

provide the right support for small and medium sized firms,

foster economic growth and competitiveness in the regions; and

maintain and enforce an effective framework for commercial activity, while removing unnecessary burdens on business.

Similarly, the DfEE has the aim "to enable everyone, through the best possible opportunities in education. training and work..... to contribute to increasing Britain's competitiveness in the twenty-first century ". Among its objectives are:

    • to encourage people to continue througbout their hves to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding and improve their employability in a changing labour market; and
  • to help people without a job into work.

A full account of the aims and objectives of these Departments, and the policies through which they are implemented, is given in the annual Departmentl Reports of the Chancellors Departments, the DTI, and the DfEE. Also relevant to your enquire are the Financial Statementand Budget Reports which follow each budget, and various policy documents, such as the Comprehensive Spending Review: Modern Public Services for Britain and Stability andInvestments in the Long Term: Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report 1998. All these documents are available through H.M. Stationary Office (Publication Centre, P.0. Box 276, London SW8 5DT, tel 01 71 873 001 1, fax 01 71 873 8200).

Departments are expected to evaluate their policies and programmes. The CORE Team in H.M. Treasury issues guidance on appraisal and evaluation in The Green Book: Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government (also available from H.M,. Stationary Office). Bodies outside government do not have a role in the design and evaluation of structural policies, other than in provision of piecemeal advice, or on a contractual basis, e.g. carrying out surveys or data analysis. (A partial exception is the National Audit Office, which is responsible directly to Parliament.)

The UK government has placed great weight on the development of output measures and performance indicators, and many of these now appear in the annual Departmental Reports. The July 1998 Comprehensive SpendingReview gave a further boost to this process by making provision for new Public Service Agreements (PSAS) between each Department and the Treasury, which will include their new objectives and measurable efficiency and effectiveness targets. Progress is to be monitored by a continous process of scrutiny and audit,overseen by a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

* * * *

United States

Question 1

Many arms of the U. S. Goverment deal with structural policy. Subtopics within structural policy are broadly distributed among departments. Three bodies within the Executive Office of the President: the Council of Economic Advisers, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Managemeng and Budget, oversee the consultation and coordination of policies. Du to this dispersion of responsibilities for structural policy, the only sensible way of describing jurisdiction is on an issue-by-issue basis.

For example, minimum wage policy is examined by the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Treasury, the Small Business Administration, the Council of Economic Advisers, and also the Congress. Regulation of banks and financial markets is the domain of the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and others. Anti-trust policies are enforced by the Department of Justice as well as the Federal Trade Comission. Simply put, every specific area of structural policy is administered by different government offices, sometimes in an overlapping, competitive, or cooperative fashion.

Question 2

Some departments also do macroeconomic forceasting: the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office , and the Council of Economic Advisers.

Question 3

The govemment's structure of responsibilities has evolved continuously over the past two centuries, responding to explicit Executive orders and legislation from Congress as well as to more subtle forces.

Question 4

Think-tanks and other private institutions, including private sector firms and associations, frequently contribute to the policy debate, although they obviously have no policymaking authority.

Question 5

Yes, on almost all issues multiple agencics work together and with outside sources to discuss policy outlook and reform. Some permanent working groups have been set up within the Executive branch, but most often, working groups are formed as issues arise.

Question 6

The annual Economic Report of the President, written by the Council of Economic Advisers, covers both macroeconomic and structural issues and has one of the broader scopes.

Question 7

No such compendium of indicators exists, because neither the United States nor the OECD has an agreed-upon set. Macroeconomic indicators can be found on an annual basis in the Economic Report of the President and on a monthly basis in Economic Indicators, both prepared by the CEA. For data outside the macroeconomic sphere see Table 2-5 in the AnalyticalPerspectives, a supporting document of the annual budget. Another good source is the StatisticalAbstract of the United States.

* * * *

ANNEX B

Structural policy organisations outside the government

This annex lists the organisations and permanent committees mentioned in the replies to Question 4 in the questionnaire. We must assume that the reporting criteria on this question differ widely between countries (for instance by what has been understood by ”one or more of the activities (a) – (d) in Question 3 as a major task”). The list should therefore be viewed as non-comprehensive and tentative. Some organisations of interest mentioned in replies to other questions are included. More detailed information of many of the organisations is given in Annex A.

Australia

The Productivity Commision, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commision, The National Competition Council, The Natonal Farmers`Federation, The Business Council of Australia, The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Austria

The Economic Chamber, The Chamber of Labour, The Chamber of Agriculture, The Chambers of the free professions, Beirat fur Wirtschafts- und Sozialfragen.

Denmark

The Economic Council, The Social Research Institute.

Canada

The Auditors General Office.

Czech republic

The social partners have a permanent committee (so called “tripartita”) which discusses economic and social policy questions, includeing structural policies.

Finland

None mentioned in particular.

France

None mentioned in particular.

Germany

The Board of Experts for Assessment of General Economic Trends.

Greece

The Center for Economic Research and Planning, IOBE (research center financed by the Confederation of Greek Industrialists).

Hungary

None mentioned in particular.

Iceland

The National Economic Institute.

Ireland

The National Economic and Social Council, The National Competitive Council.

Italy

Antitrust Authority.

Luxembourg

None mentioned in particular.

The Netherlands

None mentioned in particular.

Poland

None mentioned in particular.

Spain

The Economic and Social Council.

Sweden

Examples of public authorities with responsibilities in certain areas of structural policy: Office of Labour Market Policy Evalutation, Swedish Agency for Administrative Development, The Swedish National Audit Office, National Board of Trade, The Swedish Competition Authority, The Expert Group on Studies in Public Economy.

Switzerland

None mentioned in particular.

UK

None, a partly exception being The National Audit Office.

US

None mentioned in particular.

ANNEX C

Main, regular structural policy documents published by the government or other organisations

This list is extracted from the answers to Question 6 in the questionnaire. Not all documents in the answers are listed here.

Australia

The Productivity Commision regularly publishes papers on structural reforms and a comprehensive list of the reforms over the years. The National Competition Council`s publishes an annual report. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issues a newsletter.

Austria

The annual ”Wirtschaftsbericht der Bundesregierung” draftet by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (no english version available).

Canada

Annual reports dealing (also) with structural policy issues, mostly related to the federal budget, is complemented by ad hoc reports on specific issues.

Denmark

The annual ”Finansredegørelse” published by the Ministry of Finance (Separate summary in English: Medium Term Economic Survey). The annual ”Erhvervsredegørelse” from the Ministry of Business and Industry.

Finland

No regular documents. Structural policy is, however, dealt with in many medium and long term surveys.

France

Several bodies regularly prepare reports on structural questions.

Germany

The government`s annual economic report. The Board of Experts for Assessment of General Economic Trends submit an annual macroeconomic report. The research institutes presents reports each spring and autumn.

Greece

Progress Report on Economic Reform (annual). The National Action Plan for Employment (annual). The 1998 Update on the Hellenic Convergence Programme 1998-2001. Center for Economic Research and Planning: Paratiritirio (Observatory).

Hungary

Quarterly and annual assessments of structural policy, presented to the Government as information.

Iceland

No regular documents.

Ireland

The National Economic and Social Council publishes an examination of the Irish economy every three years. The National Competitive Council publishes an annual report.

Italy

Report on the situation of the country is published annually by the Treasury. Annual report by Bank of Italy. Annual report of Statistical Office (ISTAT).

Luxembourg

No regular documents.

The Netherlands

Progress report on structural reform, issued by The Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Poland

Annual report from the Ministry of Economy.

Spain

The Ministry of Economy and Finance publishes every year a Progress Report on the Reform of goods, services and capital markets.

Sweden

The Medium Term Survey of the Swedish Economy is published by the Ministry of Finance every fourth year.

Switzerland

A report of ongoing structural change in the economy is planned to be submitted to Parliament every fourth year.

UK

The annual Departmental Reports of the Chancellors Departments, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Education and Employment. Also relevant are the Financial Statement and Budget Reports which follow each budget.

US

The annual Economic Report of the President, written by the Council of Economic Advisers, covers both macroeconomic and structural issues.

ANNEX D

Letter from the Norwegian Ministry of Finance of

September 11 1998

According to the attached list

Your ref

Our ref

Date

98/

11 .9.1998

INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF structural POLICY MAKING – A simple fact finding exercise

The Norwegian Ministry of Finance is reviewing aspects of its work with structural policy. As a starting point for this review we would like to collect a few facts on how work with structural policy is organised and presented in other OECD countries. As far as we are informed, little systematic evidence on this subject is available at the OECD or elsewhere.

We would, accordingly, appreciate it very much if you or one of your colleagues could help us by answering the attached questionnaire. The questions should be fairly easy to answer. You are of course welcome to make additional comments if you please.

The answers may be sent by post or fax, or e-mailed to jan-erik.stostad@finans.dep.no. The question file, and some additional background information, may also be acquired at this

e-mail address. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions. To meet our deadline in December, a reply by October 23 will be most welcome.

Your co-operation will be greatly appreciated. We plan to summarise our findings in a brief report, and will be happy to send this to you as soon as it is available.

Yours sincerely,

Hans Henrik Scheel

Director General Jan-Erik Støstad

Deputy Director General

Names and addresses 4) The people on this list represented their country at the WP1-meeting at the OECD in February 1998, and/or has been suggested to us because of their work with structural policy issues.)

Austria: Mr. A. Pregesbauer, Federal Ministry of Finance

Australia: Mr. Terry O`Brien, The Treasury

Belgium: Mr. J-P Stassart, Ministry of Economic Affairs

Canada: Ms. L. Ridgeway, Privy Council Office

Czech Republic: Mr. J. Vostatek, Ministry of Finance

Denmark: Mr. P. Callesen, Ministry of Finance

Finland: Mr. K. Mannermaa, Ministry of Finance

France: J. Cotis, Direction de la Prevision.

Germany: Mr. C. Katrop, Ministry of Finance

Greece: Mr. S. Makrydakis, Ministry of National Economy

Hungary: Mr. E. Gács, Ministry of Finance

Iceland: Mr. S. Snaevarr, National Economic Institute

Ireland: Mr. P. Ryan, Ministry of Finance

Italy: Mr. C. Frattale, Ministry of Treasury and Budget

Japan: Mr. M. Nomura, Economic Planning Agency

Korea: Mr. S-B. Ko, Ministry of Finance and Economy

Luxembourg: Mr. G. Schmit, Ministry of Economic Affairs

Mexico: Mr. A. Genel, Permanent Delegation to the OECD

The Netherlands: Mr. C. Van Gent, Ministry of Economic Affairs

New Zealand: Mr. M. Blackmore, Permanent Delegation to the OECD

Poland: Ms. L. Wilk, Ministry of Finance

Portugal: Mr. P. Silva, Ministry of Finance

Spain: M. B. Nales, Direction Générale de Politique Économique et Défence de la Concurrence, Ministère de l’Économie et des Finances.

Sweden: Mr. J. Norlin, Ministry of Finance

Switzerland: Mr. P. Balastèr, Ministry of Public Economy

Turkey: Mr. C. Terzi, Ministry of Finance

United Kingdom: Mr. N. Glass, H. M. Treasury

United States: Ms. R. Blank, Council of Economic Advisers

CC

Mr. Thorvald Moe, OECD

Mr. Jørgen Elmeskov, OECD

Ms. Deborah Roseveare, OECD

QUESTIONNAIRE5) The questions have been formulated with assistance from the Economics Department at the OECD.)

Note: In these questions we use the concept ”structural policy” in what we believe is the standard OECD way, as a broad economic policy area comprising the range of microeconomic interventions that governments make in the economy, from establishing the underpinning institutional arrangements, through to specific regulations and spending programs. The structural policy area in this interpretation complements the macroeconomic policy area, and has as main objectives to raise potential GDP and increase the flexibility of the economy. Deregulation of financial markets, reduction of many trade barriers and comprehensive tax reforms are, of course, examples of structural reforms which have been undertaken in OECD countries the last 10-20 years.

Question 1

Which ministry or other body within the Government, if any, has main responsibility for the economic policy area of structural policy (including e.g. structural policy surveillance)?

Question 2

Which department or other unit within this ministry or body, if any, is assigned specifically to this task? Does this department have other responsibilities as well, for instance budget policy or macroeconomic forecasting/policy advice?

Question 3

How is the responsibility for structural policy in this unit defined, explicitly or by experience? For instance, does it have responsibility for

(a) structural surveillance, including identifying possible structural reforms,

(b) preparing and proposing structural reforms,

(c) evaluating policy coherence,

(d) evaluating structural reforms?

Question 4

Which important bodies outside the Government, if any, have one or more of the activities (a) - (d) in Question 3, as a major task?

Question 5

Are there important permanent committees or working groups in the structural policy area with representation from

(a) different departments within the ministry or body,

(b) different ministries,

(c) the ministry (ministries) and other sectors, for instance academic institutions or the business community, or

(d) only organisations from outside the ministries?

Question 6

What main, regular, government or non-government (published) documents exist in the structural policy area?

Question 7

Does there exist a set of structural indicators for the country for policy surveillance purposes? Who produces this set? Is benchmarking being extensively used in the structural policy area?

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VEDLEGG