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The EU's Decision TrapsComparing Policies$
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Gerda Falkner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199596225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596225.001.0001

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One Trap, Many Exits, but No Free Lunch

One Trap, Many Exits, but No Free Lunch

How the Joint-Decision Trap Shapes EU Tax Policy

(p.54) 4 One Trap, Many Exits, but No Free Lunch
The EU's Decision Traps

Philipp Genschel

Oxford University Press

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

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