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Multinational enterprises, value creation and taxation: Key issues and policy developments

03-07-2019

The substantial reduction in trade costs and the rapid technological advances characterising the global economy over the past three decades have allowed multinational enterprises (MNEs) to increasingly break up their supply chains and spread them across different countries. The principal implication of this change relates to the concept of value added and the way it is created and captured across MNE-controlled global value chains (GVCs). The dynamic nature of transfers within MNEs, the increasing ...

The substantial reduction in trade costs and the rapid technological advances characterising the global economy over the past three decades have allowed multinational enterprises (MNEs) to increasingly break up their supply chains and spread them across different countries. The principal implication of this change relates to the concept of value added and the way it is created and captured across MNE-controlled global value chains (GVCs). The dynamic nature of transfers within MNEs, the increasing role of services and intangible assets in manufacturing, and most critically the unfolding digital revolution have all intensified the mobility of value-generating factors within GVCs, and highlighted the difficulty of defining the exact location where value is generated. These developments have significant policy implications. One critical area is that of tax policy, where the challenges posed by the new economic landscape are numerous and multifaceted. On the one hand, governments seek to encourage trade and investment by MNEs by removing tax and regulatory barriers they face. Some governments go even further by resorting to harmful tax competition that drives corporate income taxes to the bottom. At the same time, many MNEs continue to employ enhanced tax arbitrage to minimise their tax obligations across jurisdictions; furthermore, business models are increasingly becoming borderless and highly mobile, and therefore difficult to tax. In view of these challenges, consensus is gradually emerging that tax systems need improved alignment to ensure that profits are taxed where the economic activities generating them are performed and where value is created. Yet, allocating jurisdiction to tax business profits in the context of MNE-controlled GVCs remains a highly complex process.

Enabling SMEs' access to capital markets

09-04-2019

Making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access financing through public markets lies at the heart of the capital markets union – the plan to mobilise capital in Europe. Among the various reasons for going ahead with this union is the fact that existing requirements and listing costs in both regulated and multilateral trading venues continue to be disproportionate to the size and level of sophistication of SMEs. To further respond to this situation, the Commission has proposed ...

Making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access financing through public markets lies at the heart of the capital markets union – the plan to mobilise capital in Europe. Among the various reasons for going ahead with this union is the fact that existing requirements and listing costs in both regulated and multilateral trading venues continue to be disproportionate to the size and level of sophistication of SMEs. To further respond to this situation, the Commission has proposed adopting a regulation to address the administrative burden placed on SMEs when listing or issuing equity and bonds, with the aim to increase liquidity on SME growth markets. The latter are a new category of multilateral trading facilities, which was established under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II. To this end, the proposal provides for targeted amendments to two key pieces of financial services legislation, namely the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) and the Prospectus Regulation. Following interinstitutional negotiations the co-legislators reached a provisional agreement on the proposal on 6 March 2019, and this is due to be voted in Parliament during the April II plenary session.

The InvestEU programme: Continuing EFSI in the next MFF

09-04-2019

Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to provide for an extended EU investment programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which caters for multiple objectives in terms of simplification, flexibility, synergies and coherence across relevant EU policies. The InvestEU ...

Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to provide for an extended EU investment programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which caters for multiple objectives in terms of simplification, flexibility, synergies and coherence across relevant EU policies. The InvestEU programme, expected to run from 2021 onwards, has been designed to address this challenge. It will bring diverse EU financial instruments within a single structure, making EU funding for investment projects in Europe simpler and more efficient and flexible. It will build on the success achieved by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and consist of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal. Negotiators for Parliament and Council have reached a partial agreement on the text of the proposal, excluding budgetary figures and other elements which will not be finalised until overall agreement on the new MFF. Parliament is due to vote on that agreement in April 2019.

Standards and the digitalisation of EU industry: Economic implications and policy developments

27-03-2019

Industrial production, both globally and in the EU, is undergoing a radical digital transformation. New advanced manufacturing techniques rely primarily on innovative digital technologies, which cannot work in isolation, but are based on connected ecosystems delivering collective technological breakthroughs. All of these new technologies essentially rest on an interconnected 'smart world', where objects, machines, people and the environment are increasingly closely interlinked. The timely and harmonised ...

Industrial production, both globally and in the EU, is undergoing a radical digital transformation. New advanced manufacturing techniques rely primarily on innovative digital technologies, which cannot work in isolation, but are based on connected ecosystems delivering collective technological breakthroughs. All of these new technologies essentially rest on an interconnected 'smart world', where objects, machines, people and the environment are increasingly closely interlinked. The timely and harmonised adoption of technical standards is likely to play a pivotal role in this context. Standards can facilitate the ongoing digitalisation of industry by promoting compatibility and interoperability between products and processes; they can also transfer information between economic agents or machines, while guaranteeing minimum levels of quality and safety. Crucially, standards can also become accelerators of change, by promoting innovation and the uptake of new digital technologies. The EU has long recognised this key role of standards in the overall efforts to remove barriers and unlock the growth potential of the economy. Yet, progress in new technologies around the world is accelerating exponentially, and the development of new standards in the field is increasingly taking place outside Europe. This trend could undermine the EU's future comparative advantage and weaken the competitiveness of European industry in the long term. It therefore calls for a coordinated effort to develop European technology standards that are not only more responsive to policy needs but are also agile, open, more strongly linked to research and innovation, and importantly, better joined up.

Global and regional value chains: Opportunities for European SMEs' internationalisation and growth

14-02-2019

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around ...

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around Europe, Asia and the Americas, is still being debated in the literature. Notwithstanding their geographical characteristics, international value chains offer increased opportunities for enterprises, by fostering their growth and internationalisation irrespective of their scale and size. To SMEs, they offer a broader range of channels through which they can participate more actively in global markets. By linking with international supply chains, SMEs can take a first step up the ladder, which – through spill-overs and knowledge transfers – can often give them access to assignments of higher added value. With greater interconnectedness, however, comes greater complexity. Not all SMEs are able to take advantage of the opportunities and link with international value chains in an effective way. More importantly, however, for those that do manage to integrate into international production chains, the magnitude and nature of the benefits will critically depend on the SMEs' entry point and position in global production networks and the links they can develop within those networks.

Economic and Budgetary Outlook for the European Union 2019

30-01-2019

This EPRS study, the third in an annual series, provides an overview of the economic and budgetary situation in the EU and beyond. It summarises the main economic indicators in the Union and euro area, and their two-year trends. The figures show that growth was moderate in 2018, at 2.1 %, although this is expected to deteriorate slightly in the coming months, given the poorer global outlook than a year ago. That said, unemployment is at a post-crisis low, and is expected to improve further, given ...

This EPRS study, the third in an annual series, provides an overview of the economic and budgetary situation in the EU and beyond. It summarises the main economic indicators in the Union and euro area, and their two-year trends. The figures show that growth was moderate in 2018, at 2.1 %, although this is expected to deteriorate slightly in the coming months, given the poorer global outlook than a year ago. That said, unemployment is at a post-crisis low, and is expected to improve further, given positive labour market conditions. The study explains the annual EU budget, providing an overview of its headings for 2019, with the total amounting to €165.8 billion (or around 1 % of EU gross national income). The budget focuses on priorities that include stimulating investment, growth and research, the creation of new jobs – especially for young people – and addressing migration and security challenges. The wider budgetary framework – the multiannual financial framework (MFF) – is also analysed in the study, with key decisions on spending for the 2021-2027 period due to be taken during 2019. In this year's edition, the special 'economic focus' offers a bird's eye view of SMEs and SME policy in Europe, and of various recent EU-level initiatives in this field. The EU budget devotes particular attention to SMEs, given their central role in the European economy and in job creation. The EU needs to continue devoting efforts to improving European SMEs' access to finance, since despite recent improvements, they are still too heavily reliant on debt financing which puts them at risk in a downturn.

Investment in infrastructure in the EU: Gaps, challenges, and opportunities

03-10-2018

Public infrastructure consists of the basic physical assets and structures that support economic activity. Investment in such assets is markedly different from other types of capital expenditure, due to the heavy involvement of the public sector and the significant positive spill-over that it generates throughout the economy. Yet the same characteristics that underlie infrastructure investment can also result in its under-provision over time, due to factors such as fiscal constraints. In the European ...

Public infrastructure consists of the basic physical assets and structures that support economic activity. Investment in such assets is markedly different from other types of capital expenditure, due to the heavy involvement of the public sector and the significant positive spill-over that it generates throughout the economy. Yet the same characteristics that underlie infrastructure investment can also result in its under-provision over time, due to factors such as fiscal constraints. In the European Union (EU), following a period of sustained growth, investment in infrastructure has been declining since 2009. Despite the gradual easing of this negative trend from 2015, investment rates remain below pre-crisis levels. This has given rise to a lively debate over the emergence of an investment gap and its implications for the EU's economic recovery and competitiveness. This is because investment in infrastructure has the potential not only to boost aggregate demand in the short term, but also to bring important benefits over the longer term by broadening the productive capacity of the economy as a whole. Estimates for the EU indicate that plummeting investment is below the levels needed. European Investment Bank (EIB) estimates suggest that economic infrastructure investment needs for energy, transport, water and sanitation, and telecoms are as much as €688 billion per year. Additional estimates for social infrastructure suggest that the investment gap for health, education and social housing is at €142 billion per year. The mobilisation of resources required is therefore significant. In due recognition of the emerging needs, the current and previous multiannual financial frameworks put emphasis on the expansion of programmes and initiatives where infrastructure plays a prominent role, both directly, as the primary targeted sector, and indirectly through broader interventions covering a range of sectors.

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