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Tax harmonization in Europe: Moving forward

The debate on tax competition opposes those who praise its positive effect on government efficiency, and those who accuse it of distorting public choices, inducing inequality but also undermining the functioning of markets. These two polar versions coexist in the European Union.

By: , and Date: July 16, 2014 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The debate on tax competition opposes those who praise its positive effect on government efficiency, and those who accuse it of distorting public choices, inducing inequality but also undermining the functioning of markets. These two polar versions coexist in the European Union. Since decisions on taxation require unanimity, it is not surprising that tax cooperation remains difficult. Still, the argument that tax distortions undermine the single market has justified some harmonization in the area of indirect taxation (Value Added Tax, excise duties); much less harmonization, however, has happened on the direct taxation of capital and labor.

The sovereign debt crisis that started in 2009 has given an impetus to the debate on tax harmonization, for three reasons:

  • Governments have been obliged to rapidly raise taxes while facing international tax competition and domestic discontent concerning the distribution of the burden;
  • Emergency assistance to crisis countries has sometimes been considered illegitimate given the low levels of taxation in some countries for companies or wealthy individuals;
  • The need for a “fiscal capacity” has emerged as a complement to the monetary union and to the banking union.

It should be noted at this stage that although they are often considered as synonymous, the words “coordination”, “cooperation”, “convergence” and “harmonization” cover somewhat different concepts. Tax harmonization (e.g. the minimum standard VAT rate, or common rules embodied in different directives on the corporate taxation), is a form of coordination. The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base project (CCCTB) envisages a harmonization of CIT bases, but also some cooperation through the consolidation and apportionment of tax bases.3 As for convergence, it is a broader concept that is compatible with both tax coordination and tax competition. In the following, we concentrate on tax harmonization and cooperation.

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Past Event

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In this event, participants will take a closer look at the recovery plans submitted by EU countries.

Speakers: Zsolt Darvas, Alex Patelis and Maarten Verwey Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 23, 2021
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Opinion

What to expect from the ECB’s monetary policy strategy review?

Emphasis will be placed on greening monetary policy and clarifying the ECB's price stability objective, but is this enough?

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 23, 2021
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EU debt vs national debts: friends or foes?

The EU will become into a major issuer of safe assets in the coming years. How will this interact with the debt issuance of European sovereign debts?

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Yves Jacob, Gert-Jan Koopman, Pablo de Ramón-Laca and Imène Rahmouni-Rousseau Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Speakers: Philippe Donnet and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Past Event

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Conference on the Future of Europe: Vehicle for reform versus forum for reflection?

At this policy dialogue organised by the research project EU3D, panellists will discuss different options and what they may entail while revisiting the debates on the future of Europe at national and EU-level that have been conducted thus far and their patterns, including preliminary findings on national parliamentary debates.

Speakers: Sergio Fabbrini, John Erik Fossum, Magdalena Góra, Vivien Schmidt, Manfred Weber and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 16, 2021
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Blog Post

The Conference on the Future of Europe: vehicle for reform versus forum for reflection?

The approach of the European Union’s institutions to the Conference on the Future of Europe is muddled, with risks for the outcome.

By: Sergio Fabbrini, John Erik Fossum, Magdalena Góra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 15, 2021
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External Publication

The Value of Money, Controversial Economic Cultures in Europe: Italy and Germany

A discussion of Italian and German macro-economic cultures and performances.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 10, 2021
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Inflation!? Germany, the euro area and the European Central Bank

There is concern in Germany about rising prices, but expectations and wage data show no sign of excess pressures; German inflation should exceed 2% to support euro-area rebalancing but is unlikely to do so on sustained basis.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 9, 2021
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Switzerland’s decision to abandon talks on a framework agreement with the European Union will have far reaching consequences. The outline of future relations now depends both on the EU’s response and on domestic developments.

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