European Parliament
PART A - Research and documentation dossiers and working papers
This page is no longer updated. Please consult the E-Studies database for the catalogue and full texts of working papers produced by the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Research


Latest issue: June 2000
Last update: February 2001

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ECON 126The Economic Situation of the European Union and the Outlook for 2001-2002
January 2001 - EN/FR/DE
Prospects for the European Union and the Euro Area look sound, but there is a risk of a significant slowdown in the US. Central banks in the European Union should stand ready to offset any deflationary impacts from abroad. The appreciation of the euro and lower oil prices should help moderate prospective inflation in the Euro Area.

ECON 125Tax co-ordination in the European Union
December 2000 - EN/FR/DE
This working document is an updated version of the study originally published in 1998 under the title "Tax Competition in the European Union". The General Introduction covers the recent history of tax policy within the European Union, and examines the current situation in the fields of Corporate Taxation, the Taxation of Savings, the Taxation of Labour and Indirect Taxation (VAT and excise duties). The second section - Taxes on Labour, on Income from Capital and on Corporations in the European Union: a comparative analysis - provides a detailed survey of how direct taxes, personal and corporate, are levied within the European Union. Finally, a third section - Competition or Co-operation? - discusses the main issues in the current debate on the alternative approaches of competition and co-operation in the tax field.

ECON 123Improving cross-border payments in the Euro area
June 2000 - EN/FR/DE
A common means of payment for the European Union has almost been achieved, but has not yet been followed by a "single payments area". Cross-border wholesale payments can now be processed as cheaply and as quickly as domestic ones, yet retail transactions are still hampered by inefficient procedures, due partly to the lack of a common and homogenous infrastructure platform and a lack of interoperability between national payment systems. In addition to the actions taken at EU level, however, financial institutions themselves need to take urgent action to reduce costs and the time needed to finalise payments and to introduce already-existing international standards in order to increase the straight-through processing of cross-border payments.

ECON 122Strategies for the EU Economy
April 2000 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages)
Why, in recent years, has the European economy failed to keep pace with that of the United States? And why, as result, has the unemployment rate been twice as bad? These three papers — presented to Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee at the beginning of 2000 — suggest reasons and remedies. The first looks at the US performance, and concludes that Europe has lessons to learn at both the macro and micro level. The second re-examines the idea of boosting investment through large-scale infrastructure projects. And the third analyses how faster economic growth can best be translated into jobs.

August 2000 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages)
The Single Currency was a logical consequence of the Single Market, and in particular of free capital movement. Monetary union has eliminated the danger of currency crises within the euro area. At the same time, the external exposure of the participating economies, in terms of trade outside the domestic currency area, has been reduced from about 30% of GDP to about 16%.
Does this mean that the area can now conduct a policy of "benign neglect" towards the euro's exchange rate? Should its recent depreciation affect internal monetary policy?

ECON 121Consumer protection aspects of the UCITS amending directives of 17 July 1998
March 2000 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages)
The so-called 'UCITS Directive' of 1998 went some way towards the creation a single market for unit trusts, based on the principle of home-country control. The Commission has recently made proposals to allow a wider choice of investments by funds and further open up the market; and these have given rise to considerable debate - not least in the European Parliament - on such issues as 'tracker' and 'master feeder' funds. Professor Udo Reifner outlines the main provisions of the proposed legislation, and analyses them from the perspective of investor protection, which he believes should not be ignored in the search for market liberalisation. The amendments voted by Parliament at first reading are appended in an Annexe.

ECON 118The Functioning and Supervision of International Financial Institutions
February 2000 - EN/FR/DE/IT (Summary in all languages - ECON 118A)
The recent financial crises in Asia, Russia and Latin America have focussed attention on the effectiveness of the world's 'financial architecture'. The freeing of capital movements and the globalisation of markets have boosted economic growth; but also increased instability and systemic risk. This study examines in detail the workings of the system, and the problems it faces. It looks particularly at risk-management techniques, the difficulties of effective prudential supervision, the situation in developing countries, and the impact of hedge funds and other new financial instruments. It also examines the role of money laundering and other criminal activities. Finally, it makes a number of proposals for reform, both at the international and EU level.

ECON 117EMU and Enlargement: a review of policy issues
December 1999 - EN, first part in FR and DE (Summary/Conclusions in all languages - ECON 117A)
Within a decade, the number of EU Member States should have nearly doubled. An important consequent issue is how quickly the new countries will also be able to become part of the Euro area. This study examines in detail, within the context of the enlargement timetable, the economic outlook for the twelve existing applicants, and assesses how far they will be able to meet the Maastricht convergence criteria. It also looks at possible strategies for preparing the way to EMU membership - including the linking of their currencies to the € even in advance of joining the EU. Annexes also look at the differing lessons of Portuguese and E. German experiences.

ECON 116The Determination of Interest Rates
December 1999 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages - ECON 116A)
Everyone believes that they know what an interest rate is. This study, however, examines some of the theoretical and practical complexities: the differences between interest, rent and profit; between nominal and real rates; between long and short rates; and how these interact. It looks, in particular, at how changes in short-term rates feed through into financial markets; and how the level of long-term rates influences the real economy. Finally, it examines the development of rates in the € area since the beginning of 1999, and the conduct of monetary policy by the European Central Bank.

ECON 115Options for the Exchange Rate Management of the ECB
October 1999 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages - ECON 115A)
The European Central Bank has hitherto paid little attention to exchange rate policy, maintaining that its job to is to support the internal, not external, value of the €. But the fall in the € parity below a $ has brought signs of a change. This study by Prof. Bofinger of Würzburg University examines the options and difficulties involved in any policy for managing the € exchange rate. He concludes that an internationally-agreed policy of preventing appreciations, through sterilised intervention, might be the answer.

ECON 114The Euro as 'Parallel Currency' 1999-2002
April 1999 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages- ECON 114A)
Although the third stage of EMU began on 1 January 1999, euro-denominated notes and coins will not start circulating until 2002; and national currency may continue circulating until July of that year. As a result, the euro may meanwhile be described as a parallel currency, which can be used on a no prohibition, no compulsion basis. This study examines the consequences for firms, public authorities and citizens; and the preparations for introducing the euro notes and coins. It also looks at the impact of the euro on the "out" countries of the EU, and in the wider world.

ECON 113Public and Private Investment in the European Union
May 1999 - EN (Summary/conclusions in all languages - ECON 113A)
It is generally agreed that economic growth and the level of investment are linked: but how? Using growth models, this study assessses the extent to which investment, both private and public, can contribute to growth and employement. It also examines the role of investment quality in inducing product and labour market reforms.

ECON 112The monetary policy of the ECB under Treaty Article 105
April 1999 - EN (Summary/conclusions in all languages - ECON 112A)
Now that the Euro-has been successfully launched «the time has come for a more comprehensive analysis of the ECB’s monetary policy». Prof. Dr. Bofinger of Würzburg University examines the ECB’s task of supporting the general economic policy of the EU; criticises the use of money-supply targets; and suggests improvements, in particular a «transparent inflation target».

ECON 111Labour Costs and Wage Policy within EMU
April 1999 - EN (Summary/conclusions in all languages - ECON 111A)
Developments in the labour market are perhaps crucial to the long-term success of EMU. This study analyses nominal and real wage convergence, the share of wages in national income, wage costs as a whole, and regional developments; and reaches a number of conclusions about the way in which these will be affected by monetary union.

ECON 110Monetary Policy Transmission in the Euro Area
January 2001 - EN/DE/FR (ECON 110 rev. 1)
April 1999 - EN/DE/FR (Summary/conclusions in all languages - ECON 110A)
The Euro-area now has a single monetary policy, administered by the European Central Bank. The success of such a «one policy fits all» system depends in part on the mechanisms by which decisions on interest rates, etc. affect the real economy. This study examines various differences between countries in the fields of banking, financial markets and housing finance, and makes suggestions for action.

ECON 109Forecasting budgetary deficits
April 1999 - EN/DE/FR (Summary/conclusions in all languages - ECON 109A)
Under the Stability and Growth Pact, countries in the Euro-area are required to balance their budgets over the economic cycle, with an upper deficit limit of 3%. Will this be possible? This study examines the sensitivity of different countries revenues and expenditures to changes in economic conditions, including a worst-case «bust» scenario.

ECON 108Electronic Commerce and Tax Base Erosion
January 1999 - EN
This study examines whether there is any evidence, for both «direct» and «indirect» taxes, that electronic commerce leads to tax base erosion and the establishment of business in tax havens.
The briefing also looks at the impact that the growth of the Internet and electronic commerce may have on the collection of taxes. An analysis is made of the problems which make electronic commerce over the Internet so difficult to tax. This includes the internet’s lack of physical location and central control, the problems with auditing and enforcement, the use of electronic money and encryption and the problems associated with mirror servers and disintermediation. A discussion of existing tax law gives an overview of why direct and indirect taxation rules may provide loopholes in the age of electronic commerce.

ECON 107The Feasibility of an International Tobin Tax
March 1999 - EN (Summary in all languages - ECON 107A)
In 1992 Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin suggested a tax on currency operations «to throw some sand in the wheels of speculation». Interest in the proposal has now been re-kindled as governments search for «a new international financial architecture». A Tobin Tax would penalise short-term speculation, while leaving long-term investment relatively unaffected. But there are doubts as to whether it could ever be put into effective practice. The tax has an additional attraction, however: it could raise very large sums for development, humanitarian aid, international peace-keeping and operations to stabilise world financial markets.

ECON 106EMU: Relations between the 'Ins' and the 'Outs'
October 1998 - EN (Summary in all languages - ECON 106A)
When Stage III of Economic and Monetary Union began on 1 January 1999, four EU Member States remained outside. This has created both economic and institutional complications: it is not yet clear how the exchange rates of all 'out' currencies will be linked to the Euro, what powers or authority the new 'Euro-11' Council will have, nor how the Euro Zone will be represented at international level. The challenges posed by this situation are examined, and suggestions made as to how they can best be met.

ECON 105Tax Competition in the European Union
December 1998 - EN (Summary and conclusions in all languages - ECON 105A)
Is competition between tax systems a useful discipline on revenue-hungry governments? Or does it erode the tax base, resulting in higher burdens on labour and higher unemployment? Does Economic and Monetary Union automatically mean tax harmonisation? Part I of this study examines these issues, and the steps that have recently been taken in the field. Part II provides a detailed survey of how Direct Taxes — on labour, on savings and corporations — are currently levied within the EU.

ECON 104Adjustment to Asymmetric Shocks
September 1998 B EN/FR/DE (Summary and conclusion in all languages - ECON 104A)
Once the euro is a reality, participating Member States will be unable to alter exchange and interest rates. Nor will there be a large federal budget and significant labour mobility, as in the US. How will they then cope with «asymmetric shocks»? This study examines these questions in the light of «optimum currency area» theory. It concludes that the main economic disparities are between regions rather than countries, and that appropriate instruments of adjustment in principle already exist.

ECON 103The social consequences of changes in VAT rate
May 1998 - DE/EN/FR
Taking the Dutch model as a basis, this study examines three different scenarios of consequences for employment of the change in the VAT rate. It outlines the consequences at Union level. This comprehensive analysis is supplemented by graphics, a large bibliography and statistical data.

ECON 102 rev.Prudential supervision in the context of EMU
March 2000 - DE/EN/FR (Summary in all other languages - ECON 102A)
Full economic and moneteary union will test Europe's systems for supervising financial institutions. In some countries the Central Banks are responsible for both monetary policy and supervision; in others, the tasks are separated; while EU- level supervision is based on "home country control". This study examines the likely future development of financial markets, and whether the existing regulatory framework will be adequate.

ECON 101The international role of the Euro
January 1998 - DE/EN/FR (Summary in all other languages - ECON 101A)
The creation of the Euro will constitute a major change to the international monetary system. This study examines the extent to which the Euro will become a major international currency to rival the dollar; whether it is likely to be "strong" or "weak"; and how exchange rate policy for the Euro is to be managed. It also contains Annexes on the Euro as an anchor currency for the CEECs; and on parameters for Euro/$ exchange rates.

W30The Social and Economic Consequences of abolishing 'Duty Free' within the European Union
October 1997 - EN/FR/DE (Summary in all languages)
The abolition in 1999 of duty-free sales for persons travelling within the European Union has become the subject of a lively controversy. This study considers the basic statistics, the legal situation, the consequences of national budgets, the foreseeable results of the abolition of duty-free sales and in particular the regional and local effect of abolition.

W29The Information Society and the European Economic Area (EEA)
July 1997- EN
The EEA Treaty has an important impact on the Information Society policies of the EEA/EFTA States. International Telecommunication Union statistics show that the EEA/EFTA States dispose of a superior Information Society infrastructure than most of the EU Member States. The EEA States have taken all the legislative measures in telecommunications, television broadcasting and other Information Society domains which were included in the EEA Agreement. The paper also analyses other forms of participation of the EEA/ EFTA countries in the EU Information Society programmes, via the R&D Framework Programme or the Trans-European Networks.

W28Public Procurement - Experiences in the EU and the USA after the 1994 Government Procurement Agreement
April 1997- EN
In most market economies the public sector represents a substantial share of intermediate and final demand. This working document analyses the different nature of EU and US procurement patterns, the potential impact resulting in equivalent market access may be relatively limited. The US has a concentrated procurement pattern; the EU is still in the process of liberalising its own international procurement market.

W27Status report on European Union - Space Satellite Policies
March 1997- EN
This paper sets out to highlight the main actions and orientations concerning space and satellites. The intensive consultation coordination and cooperation between the EU and the satellite industry are advocated in order to identify and eliminate the existing obstacles to industrial competitiveness.

W26The Challenges of Public Services in Europe
July 1996 - EN/ES/FR
At the current stage of the EU the principle of the discretionary power of states in the management of public services can no longer be affirmed. It is thus necessary to recognize the limits of this principle of free organization of public services, taking into account the most recent case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

W25The impact of VAT and intrastat obligations on SMEs
June 1996 - EN/FR/NL (Summary W24 in all languages)
Using the innovative MISTRAL methodology, the study reveals that administrative burdens of carrying out an intracommunity transaction (the result of the "transitional" VAT régime, and the accompanying system for collecting trade statistics) are 20% higher than in the case of a domestic transaction. The smaller the firm, the higher the administrative costs.

W23EMU and the outsiders - Analysis and recommendations
May 1996- EN
This external study considers the implications of the probability that only a subset among the fifteen Members States will enter EMU in January 1999. It is in four parts. The first deals with the consequences of recent exchange-rate movements within the EU. In the second, a retrospective and prospective analysis of convergence record and of the attitude of the various member countries. The third and fourth parts focus on possible exchange-rate arrangement between the "insiders" and "outsiders"; and on the recommendations of the authors.

W21Public Undertakings and Public Service Obligations in the European Union
May 1996 - DE/EN/FR, (Summary in all languages)
The current privatization trend means that the role of public enterprises in the Community is diminishing and the fulfilment of public service obligations is in question. The study examines the nature and scope of these obligations in the Member States to discover if there is any agreement on a minimal notion of public service.

W14 rev.The Four Freedoms and the European Economic Area
February 1997 - EN
This paper examines the first experience of the EEA agreement. It discusses in particular the application of EC law in the fields of the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, and some critical issues conceming environmental legislation and participation of EEA states in EU decision procedures.

E6The coordination of national fiscal policies in the context of Monetary Union
October 1996 - EN
A central problem of Economic and Monetary Union will be to reconcile a centralised monetary policy with largely decentralised fiscal policies. Part of the answer already lies in the Treaties: the "golden rules" on deficit financing and the excessive deficit procedure; but these will need supplementing by coordination. This study examines the problems, and makes a number of recommendations for future action.

E5Options for a definitive VAT system
September 1995 - EN/FR
Following a brief survey of the theory and history of the Community's Value Added Tax system, this study analyses the working of the "transitional" VAT regime introduced at the beginning of the 1993, and outlines a number of options for the "definitive" system due after 1996, including adoption of the full origin principle, adaptation of the "status quo", payment of all revenue into the Community budget and the abolition of VAT altogether.

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EMU Briefings

The following briefing papers are available in English and French and, where appropriate, in the language of the country concerned.

  • 27. The European System of Central Banks
  • 28. EMU and the Consumer
  • 29. Exchange Rate Policy under EMU
  • 30. Central Banks: independence and accountability
  • 34. TARGET
  • 36. Euro notes and coins
  • 37. The EIB and the Euro
  • 38. EMU and Enlargement
  • 40. The impact of the Euro on Insurance Markets
  • 41. Monetary Union: Convergence and Cohesion
  • 42. Foreign reserves of the European System of Central Banks
  • 43. Roles of the Economic and Financial Committee and the Employment Committee
  • 44. The Euro and Seigniorage
  • 45. EMU and employment

Monetary Affairs Briefings

  • 1. EMU and Financial Markets
  • 3. Monetary Aggregates or Inflation Targets
  • 5. The Euro: Counterfeiting and Fraud

Economic Affairs Briefings

  • 19. Local Taxation in the EU
  • 26. The Portuguese Economy
  • 27. The Greek Economy
  • 30. The Italian Economy