2008 European Union stimulus plan

On 26 November 2008, the European Commission proposed a European stimulus plan (also referred to as the European Economic Recovery Plan) amounting to 200 billion euros to cope with the effects of the global financial crisis on the economies of the members countries. It aims at limiting the economic slowdown of the economies through national economic policies, with measures extended over a period of two years.

For a broader view of policy responses to the global economic slowdown, see 2008–09 Keynesian resurgence.

Presentation of the plan

The European Commission presented on 26 November a plan to cope with the current economic crisis in the 27 member countries of the Union.

The plan combines short-term measures to stimulate demand and maintain jobs and longer-term measures to invest in strategical sectors, including research and innovation. The aim is to promote growth and ensure sustainable prosperity.[1]

The plan includes targeted and temporary measures amounting to 200 billion euros, or 1.5% of EU GDP,[2] using both the national budgets of the national governments, the budget of the EU and that of the European Investment Bank.[1] The plan is scheduled on a period of two years.


The plan includes a broad range of actions at national level and at EU level to help households and industrial firms (particularly automobile and construction).

The measures include:

  • reflation: the Commission will allow Member States to break the Stability and Growth Pact for two or three years.
  • incentives to investment: the plan outlines measures to encourage the fight against climate change and promotes strategic investments in buildings and energy efficient technologies.
  • lower rates: the ECB is invited to drop its rates.
  • tax rebates: lowering taxation on green technology and eco-friendly cars, accompanied by scrappage programs
  • social measures: the Commission proposed the governments to temporarily increase unemployment benefits and their duration, to increase allowances to households, to lower taxes on low incomes, to lower social security contributions paid on low wages by employers, to reduce labour costs paid by employees with low incomes, to provide subsidised loans or credit guarantees for companies, to reduce temporarily the VAT rate to support consumption.[3] The Commission announced it would adopt by mid-March 2009 a proposal to lower VAT rates for services with high labour-intensiveness (such as catering).[4]

National plans

National plans are often close to 1.2 percentage points of GDP, as recommended by the European Commission, and are focused on 2008 and 2009. However, Germany and Spain have announced fiscal stimulus of respectively 3.3% (two plans altogether) and 8.1%[5] of their GDP.

The plan announced by the European Commission at the end of November recommended measures to revive the economy but did not specify much the nature of the plans. Some plans are focused on the stimulation of demand (United Kingdom, to a lesser extent Spain, Italy or the second German plan), other plans insist more in incentives to supply (French plan, first German plan ).

Measures took on expenditure to improve demand generally include measures to support medium-term growth through increased public spending on infrastructures (road networks and railway) and aids to the housing sector (notably construction and renovation). Several countries have also announced short-term measures to relieve the effects of the crisis on the poorest people (increase in benefits and allowances to households with low incomes and unemployed). However, these aids have often limited effects on the economy, because their amounts are insignificant.

Other measures affected national taxation systems. The UK was the only country that opted for a temporary decline in the standard VAT rate, by 2.5 percentage points. In Germany, employer contributions were lowered. Most plans include incentive measures to SMEs and development of green energy.

CountryDateTypeAmount in billion euros (% of GDP)Measures
GermanyNovember 2008first plan32 (1.3%)82 (3.3%)
  • Investments in infrastructures
January 2009second plan50 (2%)
  • Public investments
FranceDecember 2008stimulus plan26 (1.3%)
  • Aids to auto industry (2 billion)
  • Aids to construction and housing (2 billion)
  • Public works (10.5 bn)
  • Aids to improve companies' liquidity (10 bn)
SpainApril 2008first plan20 (1.8%)90 (8.1%)[5]
  • Increase in minimum wage from 570 € to 800 € by 2012
  • Tax cuts
  • Benefit of €400 for each fiscal household
  • Tax rebates for the housing sector
  • Suppression of the wealth tax
August 2008second plan20 (1.8%)
  • Aids to SMEs
  • Construction of social housing
November 2008third plan50 (4.5%)
  • Suppression of contributions and incentives to hire unemployed
  • Expenditures in research and development
  • Aids to auto industry
ItalyMay 2008election pledges9 (0.6%)
  • Suppression of taxation on overtime
  • Suppression of the housing tax
November 2008anti-crisis plan
  • Aids to low-incomes households (3 bn)
  • Tax rebates for companies (2.3 bn) and households (0.7 milliard)
NetherlandsSeptember 2008budget bill2.5 (0.4%)8.5 (1.4%)
  • Tax rebates for households and firms
  • Cancellation of the increase of VAT rate
  • Suppression of unemployment contributions
November 2008stimulus plan6 (1%)
  • Tax rebates
  • Social benefits
  • Aids to improve the liquidity of companies
  • Public expenditure (works)
United KingdomSeptember 2008urgency measures£1 billion£31 bn (2.2%)
  • Aids to real estate sector
November 2008stimulus plan£20 billion
  • VAT taxation rate lowered from 17.5% to 15% until 2010
January 2009additional measures£10 billion
  • Building program (school, hospitals, green energy) to create 100,000 jobs


  1. Kick-starting the economy, European Commission. Accessed 2009-03-21. Archived 2009-05-21.
  2. The Commission launches a major Recovery Plan for growth and jobs, to boost demand and restore confidence in the European economy, Europa, 26 November 2008 . Accessed 2009-03-21. Archived 2009-05-21.
  3. A European Economic Recovery Plan by the European Commission
  4. Cutting red tape on VAT, European Commission. Accessed 2009-03-21. Archived 2009-05-21.
  5. "Stimulus Packages". rodrik.typepad.com. Retrieved 26 December 2013.

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