Supranational actors in intergovernmental policy areas - The European Commission as an agent in tax policy
Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to examine how a supranational institution acts in a policy field marked by a high degree of intergovernmental decision-making (i.e. decision-making between Member State governments). It analyses the strategies the European Commission applied in one case in the area of tax policy, namely the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) proposal; drawing on the principal-agent approach as the theoretical underpinning. Based on documentary analysis and relevant secondary material, it finds that the Commission as the agent used seven different strategies in this case, and that they can be grouped into three types: the confrontational, cooperative and persuasive type. It moreover finds that there are strategies which are predominant in different phases of the development of the proposal, spanning from 2001-2014. In the initial phase, the Commission mainly applied strategies of the confrontational and the persuasive type; the mid-phase was dominated by cooperative strategies, while the phase after the proposal was issued was mainly characterised by persuasive strategies. By providing a comprehensive analysis of the agent’s strategies, the thesis makes a valuable contribution to the strand of principal-agent literature which focuses on the agent’s behaviour; as well as to the political science literature on tax policy.
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