pierre moscovici EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission’s Taxing New Idea

The European Commission is proposing that EU tax policies be subjected to qualified-majority voting just when the balance of power in the bloc is about to shift decidedly to the southern member states. That would set the stage for a rebellion among northern members, which will have effectively lost fiscal sovereignty.

FRANKFURT – Under the Treaty of Lisbon, in effect since 2009, the European Union became a more agile and effective operator, because EU policies across a range of issues were now to be decided by qualified-majority voting instead of unanimity.

But as recent efforts to allocate refugees within the EU show, in some cases, particularly where fundamental issues of national sovereignty are involved, outvoted member states are unprepared or unwilling to implement collective decisions. Nonetheless, the European Commission is now wading into yet another domain where fundamental issues of sovereignty are at stake.

For many years, some EU member states have refused to cooperate fully in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance. And because EU tax policies still require unanimity, each country has a veto. It seems only natural, therefore, that the EU would want to introduce qualified-majority voting here, too. Under a new proposal from Pierre Moscovici, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation, and Customs, if 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the EU population were to vote in favor of a new tax policy, it would pass.

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