Tax Harmonization in the EU: Insights on Political and Legal Fusion under Neofunctional Rationale

  •  Shafi Khan Niazi    


The traditional narrative is that direct taxes in EU remain non-harmonized since decisions in this domain originate solely from intergovernmental bargains, often exemplified as failure of legal, political and economic integration. The article reviews this conventional notion that European tax harmonization process draws truly on national-choices of Member States. The contribution does not out rightly discard national role in pooling EU-level tax mandate but rather assigns it a temporal dimension under neofunctional integration model. Considering the intergovernmental politics and members decision-making in isolation, akin to that of traditional nation-state in global arena, may create a misleading conception in EU context. European Member States might seem to be the sole political actors of EU-level tax policymaking, yet there exist other players that shape or even push national decision-making processes. The study provides a bigger-picture perspective that seeks to capture key legal, political and economic developments instrumental to the European integration project. It concludes that (direct) tax policy domain – a symbol of fiscal sovereignty of Member States and unspoken regime in EU law – is also not impervious to neofunctional political rationale and consequential processes of law-creation.

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