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Public opinion and EU action on economic policy and taxation: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Economic policy has recently been a matter of some concern to all European citizens, with the consequences of the economic crisis hitting hard. In order to test the public mood concerning economic policy and the fight against tax fraud, the European Parliament recently commissioned a Eurobarometer survey on EU action, including in these policy fields. EPRS has identified the gaps between citizens’ expectations and the possibilities for increased EU intervention in these fields.

Economic policy

Public expectations and EU commitment on economic policy

The financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis that followed have shaken citizens’ confidence in economic policies. Although there are understandable geographical variations in attitudes, just over half of EU citizens would like the EU to intervene more, rather than less, in economic policy. Whilst monetary policy is an exclusive EU competence for the euro area, Member State compliance with the existing Stability and Growth Pact framework is weak. The EU maintains a high state of vigilance, in case of further difficulties with the banks/sovereign nexus, but room for further EU action is considerably limited.

The fight against tax fraud

Public expectations and EU commitment on the fight against tax fraud

Taxation remains a matter for Member States, and the EU’s competences in tax are limited. Different forms of escaping tax obligations result in tax fraud, evasion or avoidance, and dealing with the problem is a cross-border issue. The fight against fraud and evasion is a mix of national and EU actions. However, EU citizens express strong support for EU involvement in the fight against fraud and this creates a gap between citizens’ expectations and actual EU involvement in this policy area. European citizens strongly support EU measures to reform global financial markets, and top of their wish list is tougher rules on tax avoidance and tax havens.

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See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.

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