The EU has ambitious goals in terms of economic performance. The goals are to be reached in combination with social cohesion and sustainable development in terms of environment. The key economic policy instruments to be used by the EU member states are comprised of taxes and benefits. The economic and political framework for carrying out measures in this field is currently delineated, both encouraged and constrained, by factors such as ageing, globalisation and more intense international system competition in tax and social policies.
The aim of the project Tax/benefit systems and potential growth of the EU – TAXBEN (SCS8-CT-2004-502639), as outlined in SSP Priority 8 Topic 3.1. Task 4, has been to carry out an in-depth analysis of tax/benefit policies in five broad themes, where these policies play a crucial role in terms of the key EU goals : Employment; Corporate taxes under tax competition; Productivity growth and convergence; Macroeconomic policies under a single monetary policy; and Environment and climate change. The project was carried out by seven European economic policy research institutes within the ENEPRI (European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes) network.
The project team has used many novel approaches, especially in building new tools that rely on the approach of general equilibrium models so that both the direct and indirect effects of taxation can be analysed. Also new applications of existing large-scale multi-country models were carried out to evaluate the impact of tax policies. In addition, recourse was taken to econometric estimation of the relationships between key economic target variables, on the one hand, and tax/benefit and other fiscal policies and other labour market indicators, on the other, using large international data sets. A number of theoretical approaches on economic policies under the single currency were carried out, too. The analysis covered the EU-15 countries, the New Member States, in some cases other OECD countries as well, and some research efforts made had a global approach to policy making.
Altogether, the projects output was 24 working papers in the five Work packages, and five seminars held, in addition to the Final Conference. The project delivered, on the one hand, a large number of research insights on actual behaviour related to tax/benefit systems and, on the other hand, reached conclusions which should be taken into account while considering policy-making in, and reforms related to, tax/benefit policies in the EU.
The projects web site at www.taxben.org provides detailed information on the whole output and events arranged within the project. Contact person is Kari E.O. Alho : Kari.Alho@etla.fi, scientific co-ordinator of TAXBEN.