With Emmanuel Macron’s election as French president, a sharp critic of Germany’s vast export surplus has become one of the most powerful men in Europe. Although his opinion is shared widely by commentators, politicians, and organisations such as the IMF, the German public is still largely ignorant of the devastating consequences of the macroeconomic policies of its current government. Unless this changes, the internal cohesion of the European Union and the well-being of its citizens are under serious threat….
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In about two years, the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union, and commentators around the continent are speculating about which country will be next. In Western Europe eyes are on France and the Netherlands, as both have strong Euroskeptic movements, bolstered by anti-immigration parties. But to identify the larger but creeping threat to the EU, you need to look east.
One country facing a rising tide of Euroskepticism is the Czech Republic. Anti-immigration sentiment has surged in the Central European state ever since it joined the EU in 2004.
About two thirds of Czech people oppose taking in refugees, and a 2015 poll found that 94 percent favor closing the borders completely. Czech politicians have capitalized on these sentiments, with a growing number of politicians running under an “anti-immigration” banner.
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The EU reaffirmed its commitment to fighting corporate tax avoidance through a statement by European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. This should come as no surprise following recent financial scandals exposed through the Panama Papers and Luxleaks, and the ensuing international outrage towards corporations “not paying their fair share”. Yet, the push for higher corporate taxes disproportionately also affects ordinary citizens by increasing their tax burden.
Corporate tax avoidance is regularly said to be unfair to other taxpayers. Indeed, proponents of higher corporate taxes accuse multinational companies of de facto increasing ordinary citizens’ tax burden because these ones would be forced to compensate states’ budget shortfalls.
However, this artificial opposition between corporate and public interests is dishonest. When one argues corporations don’t pay taxes, the implication is that shareholders, workers and consumers are not taxed at all, which is completely untrue. All these people are taxed in various ways, including income tax and valued-added tax, among other costs imposed by national governments. The only purpose of this distinction is to push ordinary citizens to support higher corporate taxes without allowing them to realise they are the ones who are going to pay the bill.
In fact, a corporation is a legal fiction which aims to reduce transaction costs between physical stakeholders, which are shareholders, workers and consumers. Consequently, every fiscal cost imposed on corporations will necessarily be paid by these people. Therefore, as corporate taxes increase, shareholders’ dividends and workers’ salaries will decrease, while consumers will be forced to pay more for their purchases.
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