Issue 3/2020 of integration

Daniel Klein, Christopher Ludwig and Christoph Spengel explain the Commis­sion’s proposals for direc­tives on the taxation of digital companies presented so far and describe the technical and political hurdles that are difficult to overcome on the way to a multi­lateral solution. In their contri­bution, Zekije Bajrami et al. analyze the extent to which an Austro-German tandem has the potential to build bridges between increas­ingly forming inter­gov­ern­mental blocs within the EU, taking into account European key policy issues. In a commented reprint of their contri­bution from integration 1/2007, Daniel Göler and Mathias Jopp compare the context and challenges of the current German Council Presi­dency with those of 2007 and note that although the issues and expec­ta­tions were compa­rable at the time, the political environment has changed consid­erably and the general openness for integration has declined since. In the forum section, Julian Plottka outlines three conceivable inter­pre­ta­tions for the design of the Conference on the Future of Europe and identifies central factors that determine the success or failure of the project. Vittoria Meißner reports from the virtual edition of the German Pre-Presi­dency Conference organized by the Trans European Policy Studies Associ­ation and Institut für Europäische Politik on the topic of challenges for the German Council Presidency.

Taxing Digital Corporations – the Difficult Attempt to Develop a European Approach

Daniel Klein, Christopher Ludwig and Christoph Spengel

In March 2018, the European Commission intro­duced two Directive proposals to target tax challenges in the era of digital­ization. The first Directive proposal suggests to introduce a digital services tax of 3 percent on gross revenues from digital services as an interim measure. The second one proposes as a long-term solution to extend the permanent estab­lishment concept to create a virtual permanent estab­lishment if a corpo­ration has a “signif­icant digital presence” in a country. So far, a lack of consensus among the member states of the European Union has made successful legis­lation on the European level unlikely. Despite the absence of an intra-community agreement, several member states have imple­mented the Directive proposal of a digital services tax with various adaptions unilat­erally. These actions contradict the efforts to develop agreeable tax reforms on a multi­lateral level. The article at hand criti­cally evaluates the current European reform proposals.

Prospects of Austrian-German Cooperation in Intergovernmental European Policy

Zekije Bajrami, Livia Puglisi, Lea Stallbaum, Michael Stellwag and Julian Plottka

In an increas­ingly inter­gov­ern­mental European Union (EU), minilateral forma­tions can reduce the complexity of EU decision-making. However, block formation can also complicate it. Therefore, bilateral diplomacy has to build bridges between these forma­tions. Against this backdrop, the article examines to what extent an Austro-German cooper­ation can act as such a bridge between the Franco-German couple and the “frugal four”, the “Visegrád Four” and maybe in the future the Western Balkans. To this end, both the orien­tation of Austrian and German EU policy as well as concrete government positions on the “European Green Deal”, the multi­annual financial framework, the defence union, the enlargement policy towards the Western Balkans and insti­tu­tional reforms are examined. Austro-German cooper­ation offers oppor­tu­nities for concrete initia­tives on shared interests, such as the rule of law mechanism, as well as poten­tials for compromise in other policy areas, such as the multi­annual financial framework.


The Conference on the Future of Europe: “Convention 2.0” or “Intergovernmentalism 3.0”? Why Europe Must Seize the Opportunity to Reform

Julian Plottka

Three months after the initially scheduled start of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) its design remains unclear. While the European Parliament proposed a rather ambitious concept of a “European Convention 2.0”, the European Council seeks additional legit­imacy for its Strategic Agenda, excluding the possi­bility of treaty reforms. However, not all national govern­ments seem to be convinced that such an “Inter­gov­ern­men­talism 3.0” legit­imised by partic­i­pative democracy is a good idea. In between these two positions, the European Commission seeks to water down Ursula von der Leyen’s bid to the European Parliament. Comparing the oppor­tu­nities and risks entailed in these three concepts of the CoFoE, the article argues for an open process, which neither pushes for nor excludes treaty reform. If citizens and civil society support such a consti­tu­tional momentum, it is about time to address the numerous reform needs and to end the further procras­ti­nation of treaty reforms.

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