Opinion: The United States should rein in the global tax bureaucrats
President Donald Trump was right to disrupt the G7’s efforts to promote “fair, progressive, effective and efficient tax systems.” The goal may seem innocuous, but it is quite the opposite – favoring large, intrusive governments at the expense of individual economic freedom. One of the most damaging proposals to create a global tax bureaucracy is the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project – a pet scheme of the OECD.
The European Semester: More power to eurozone governments
The sovereign debt crisis prompted a raft of new EU regulations overseeing member states’ fiscal and budgeting processes. At first, the rules gave a lot of power to the European Commission, but eurozone governments now tend to use the coordination process to place themselves above the Commission and the peripheral member states. There is still no credible institutional backup, however, against debt contagion.
The end of the Greek bailout program: What comes next?
As the Greek bailout program reaches its scheduled end in August 2018, the country’s government and international community must decide what comes next. Some reforms have been implemented, and the public budget even runs a surplus. But the economy remains vulnerable. The EU could dig in and insist Athens reimburses at least part of its debt, or it could cancel it altogether. The latter option is preferable – and more likely – but the EU will have to be ready to stand up to some tough criticism about the precedent it would set.
Turkey and the West – distant yet inseparable
Turkey’s growing estrangement from the West stems from its domestic and regional ambitions, as well as from a feeling of being unwanted in the European Union. There is also a deeper undercurrent, present since the founding of the Turkish Republic, that questions the Kemalist strategy of a radical alignment with Europe. Even so, a total break with its Western partners is not on the cards.
EU budget plan offers progress and pitfalls
The European Commission is finally taking steps to trim unproductive spending in areas like agriculture in its budget framework for 2021-2027. But while the new emphasis on fighting waste is promising, the fiscal plan also contains troubling proposals. One of the most disturbing is to reduce cohesion payments to countries that violate European "values," based on the arbitrary interpretations of the Commission and a few powerful member states.
A sad centennial: Unfinished peace in the Balkans
The approaching anniversary of the end of World War I is a reminder that the place where that conflict started, the Western Balkans, has still not achieved a lasting peace. Three big political, legal and financial processes must still be carried through – reconciliation of former enemies, settlement of war reparations, and division of the former Yugoslavia’s assets among its successor states. It is unlikely any of the three will be completed in the next decade.
New narratives emerging on EU finances
The European Union’s inflexible budget process – constrained by seven-year Multiannual Financial Frameworks (MFFs) – has left the bloc almost incapable of handling major crises. The resort to ad hoc solutions over the past decade has only made the situation worse. Now, reformers are considering new revenue sources, and even more revolutionary steps such as EU taxes or a separate eurozone budget.
GIS Dossier: The Western Balkans
Of all Europe’s trouble spots, the Western Balkans have a solid claim to being the most troublesome. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the region is finally stable and – save for a violent flare-up or two – peaceful. But plenty of tensions remain, corruption runs rampant and the rule of law is unevenly applied. With all these potential stumbling blocks, the region’s road toward prosperity remains bumpy. This Dossier reviews GIS reports on this region, so critical to Europe’s lasting peace.
Opinion: Separatism in Europe
Independence movements are on the rise in Europe. At the heart of this phenomenon is an ever-globalizing world, bringing with it inflows of foreigners and an outflow of traditional industries. Most of these movements have set aside violent measures in recent years, but there is no guarantee that will continue. If authorities in the EU and national governments do not deal with the challenges at the root of their grievances, it could lead to conflict at the local and national levels.
One might expect the Nordic countries, with their strong democracies and economies, to be full-throated backers of the European project. But the differences between them have led to strained relations that are undermining their relationships with Brussels. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the migrant crisis, where Sweden’s approach has unsettled its neighbors and focused attention on security issues. The result could be another headache for the European Union, this time in the north.