One Trap, Many Exits, but No Free Lunch

Philipp Genschel

in The EU's Decision Traps

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596225
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729140 | DOI:
One Trap, Many Exits, but No Free Lunch

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The joint-decision trap has not prevented the emergence of a substantial EU tax policy regime. Three key actors have contributed to this outcome: the European Court of Justice, by substituting judge-made tax law for deadlocked Council tax legislation (exit by judicial bypass); the European Commission, by using its powers as ‘Guardian of the Treaty’ and legislative agenda setter to break Council deadlock over tax legislation (exit by nudging); and the governments of the member states, by employing various negotiation techniques to prevent intergovernmental conflict from leading to Council deadlock (exit by self-extrication). The effects on problem-solving capacity are mixed. European market integration has improved but national tax autonomy has declined. The balance of costs and benefits depends on the normative convictions of the observer, as well as the structural position of member states in the single market and their institutional traditions.

Keywords: European Union; tax policy; joint-decision trap; European Court of Justice; European Commission; Council of Ministers; problem-solving capacity

Chapter.  9085 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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