Tax Policy in the EU in an Environment of New Fiscal Institutions and Coordination Procedures

Research question/goal: 

This project investigated the impact of the Reform Treaty of Lisbon and the European sovereign debt crisis on EU tax policy. The first research question asked if issue linkage led to an increasing volume of legislation. The second question related to reform pressure as a consequence of the loan conditionality inherent in EU rescue funds and the requirements of the European Fiscal Compact. Third, we addressed the question of power shift to the European Commission and bureaucratic rather than political legislation. In the fourth question, we asked if the transposition of EU directives into national law was improved in crisis countries.

To answer these research questions, we considered the process of EU tax policy as a whole. This policy process ranges from the working programme of the European Commission, preparatory acts like Commission proposals, final acts adopted by the Council or the Commission to the transposition of Community law in the member states. The quantitative analysis of process characteristics required a full text and data extraction of Commission documents, legislative procedures, legislative acts and national execution measures. In addition to that, we had to estimate the level of policy stability by measuring area-specific configurations of actors and determining institutional settings. In the last step, we separated the activities before and after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty as well as before and after the beginning of the European sovereign debt crisis.

According to our results, Council acts in the area of (direct) taxation are still of marginal importance. Unsuccessful Commission proposals reveal that the lack of dynamics results from the diversity of interests in the Council. There was neither issue linkage after the Lisbon Treaty nor a breakthrough against the background of the euro rescue policy. However, the Commission exerts an increasing indirect influence using its competencies in competition policy. The analysis of transposition patterns showed that crisis countries accelerated implementation speed. However, the amount of implementation that was achieved varied significantly, with Ireland forging ahead and Greece lagging behind. This trend indicates an enforcement rather than a management problem.

Fact sheet

Leibniz Association, WissenschaftsCampus MaTax
2012 to 2015
Data Sources: 
Databases of legislative activities, implementation activities and policy preferences
Geographic Space: 
European Union