Agustín José Menéndez has published a chapter in the book The End of the Eurocrats' Dream: Adjusting to European diversity. His chapter discusses the Europeanisation of national tax policies, and makes the case for rescuing the capacity of member states to tax effectively and fairly.
About the book
The volume argues that the crisis of the European Union is not merely a fiscal crisis but reveals and amplifies deeper flaws in the structure of the EU itself. It is a multidimensional crisis of the economic, legal and political cornerstones of European integration and marks the end of the technocratic mode of integration which has been dominant since the 1950s. The EU has a weak political and administrative centre, relies excessively on governance by law, is challenged by increasing heterogeneity and displays increasingly interlocked levels of government. During the crisis, it has become more and more asymmetrical and has intervened massively in domestic economic and legal systems.
Three patterns of Europeanisation of national tax systems and the future of the social and democratic Rechtsstaat
The power to tax is usually regarded as one of the last competences exclusively in the hands of the Member States of the European Union. As shown in this chapter, this is a wrong assumption that results from a double optical illusion: the illusion that the power to tax equals the power to collect taxes – when the power to shape taxes through constitutional and statutory norms is also of great importance; and the illusion that with the abandonment of plans to harmonise national tax systems and create taxes that were genuinely European in the 1980s, the power to tax has remained firmly in the hands of Member States.
To fully appreciate the extent to which national tax systems have been Europeanised, the author distinguishes three distinct patterns of Europeanisation: Integration through tax harmonisation (prevalent up to the late 1970s); integration through the removal of tax obstacles (dominant from the 1980s to the explosion of the present European crises); and integration through fiscal consolidation (which is the growingly dominant pattern of transformation of national tax systems). This paper considers the causal role played by integration through tax harmonisation in the present European crises and explores the consistency of the emerging paradigm of integration through fiscal consolidation. The author concludes that what is needed is not to grant taxing powers to the EU, but to make use of European law to recreate the Member States’ capacity to tax effectively and fairly.
Neumark vindicated: The three patterns of Europeanisation of national tax systems and the future of the social and democratic Rechtsstaat
Agustín José Menéndez
In: The End of the Eurocrats' Dream: Adjusting to European Diversity
Damian Chalmers, Markus Jachtenfuchs and Christian Joerges (eds)
Cambridge University Press, 2016