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integration 3/20

Inga Kjer / IEP
Inga Kjer / IEP

The negotiations on digital taxation models, opportunities for Austrian-German cooperation, challenges of the German EU Council Presidency and the participatory approach of the Conference on the Future of Europe are analyzed in this issue.

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.

Full article


Can Europe succeed? Plans and Opportunities of the German Council Presidency

Daniel Göler and Mathias Jopp


The Conference on the Future of Europe between "Convention 2.0" and "Intergovernmentalism 3.0": Why Europe must seize this opportunity for reform

Julian Plottka

Three months after the originally planned start of the Conference on the Future of Europe, its structure remains unclear. While the European Parliament has proposed an ambitious concept of a "Convention 2.0," the European Council is trying to gain additional legitimacy for its Strategic Agenda and to rule out the possibility of treaty reforms. However, not all national governments seem convinced that an "intergovernmentalism 3.0" legitimized by participatory democracy is a good idea. Between these two positions, the European Commission tries to take the political clout out of Ursula von der Leyen's "election campaign gift" to the European Parliament. The article compares the opportunities and risks arising from these three approaches and argues for an open process that neither wants to force treaty reform nor excludes it from the outset. If citizens and civil society embrace a constitutional moment, it is time to address the many reform needs and stop delaying treaty reforms.


Shaping Europe's Future Together: Challenges for the German EU Presidency in the Shadow of the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Vittoria Meissner

Team & authors

About the integration project: The quarterly journal "integration" is a theory-driven and policy-related interdisciplinary forum for fundamental questions of European integration. Contemporary issues in European politics are discussed from a political and academic perspective.

ISSN/ISBN: 0720–5120
Image copyright: Inga Kjer / IEP