Europe is going through a major crisis, whose most recent and visible outcome is the French and Dutch rejection of the European Constitution. The “evil” is deep-rooted: economic growth in the European monetary area is inferior to the world growth and our unemployment rate exceeds 10% (versus two times and a half less in the States). Such considerations lead us, on the strengh of new issues and debates emerging from the referendum campaign, to re-examine our political and economic choices.We both have to boost our economic growth and to reduce mass unemployment, so as to enable the various Member States to finance public service as well as to adopt a redistribution policy in keeping with their own choices. The emergence of new actors (the “New Europe”) and the ageing of European populations, act as many challenges rendering this reflection all the more crucial. The fiscal tool, no doubt, is one of the main levers to regain control of the situation. Unified legal, monetary and fiscal areas are behind the emergence of Nation-States. Taxation is also the source of state revenues, thus financing policies corresponding , in theory at least, to the choices made by their sovereign populations.
The issues at stake are thus considerable. Fiscal debates in Europe usually generate three kinds of responses: bringing taxation into line with European regulations, fiscal coordination, or making the choice of ‘free” fiscal competition.Confronted as we are with ideologically heated debates and dogmatic beliefs, we feel inclined to choose pragmatism.
What solutions might be working? What fake good ideas are to be banned? What areas are likely to be infuenced? To what extent?
Pedagogically and pragmatically speaking, we easily come to realize that the chances of a standardized European taxation system remain fairly limited, especially when direct fiscality is concerned, within a context where states and economic actors are encouraged to “use” fiscal competition. We shall then draw up an inventory of the discrepancies between the various European taxation systems of the Member-States and institutional obstructions.We shall also mention the potential or recognized risks weighing on European fiscality, a case in point being the consequences of an intensified fiscal competition or the issue of cross-border tax evasion.
We shall then question the nature of the top priorities Europe must target and we shall re-examine the possible alternatives between fiscal competition, a standardized European taxation system and fiscal coordination in order to pinpoint concrete tendencies and measures.