The fiscal policy rule implicit in the Stability and Growth Pact, has been rationalised as a way to ensure that national fiscal policies remain sustainable within the EU, thereby endorsing the independence of the ECB. We empirically examine the sustainability of European fiscal policies over the period 1970-2001. The intertemporal government budget constraint provides a test based on the cointegration relation between government revenues, expenditures and interest payments. Sustainability is analysed at both the national level and for a European panel. Results show that European fiscal policy has been sustainable overall, yet national experiences differ considerably.
JEL classification:E61, E63, H63