Am I the only one here that thinks Gerhard Schroeder’s making himself look like a bit of a goon with his condescending lectures to east European countries that they’d better raise their taxes… or else?
Here’s an issue that’s been quietly bubbling for some time, at least here in Prague. Either both sides have raised the rhetorical notch a level, or the media’s just starting to pay attention. In an interview with The Slovak Spectator, Slovak finance minister Ivan Miklo? puts it nicely: “The fact is that many European states should make structural reforms like those that we are now carrying out in Slovakia if they want to prosper…”
In other words, yeah, tax harmonization, great idea! So let’s start with France and Germany lowering their taxes! Ha.
To be fair, Schroeder and Chirac may have a point. I don’t pretend to know enough about EU tax law — or tax law in general — to know whether it’s a valid one. Basically the Franco-German logic is, “OK, so the Slovaks are free to offer a low corporate tax rate. Well, Germany’s free to stop giving so much money to the Slovaks.” The question to me is whether these things are apples and oranges, or even whether the Hungo-Slavic bloc really cares than much about EU structural funding. (And to be completely honest, my eyeballs started to glaze over about mid-way through the Spectator article, so if somebody can distill things a bit better than this, I’d be a happy camper.)
In any case, considering the Schroder-Chirac tax harmonization plan has a snowball’s chance in Cyprus of going through — at least according to this Business Week piece — you’d think they’d adopt a different rhetorical strategy. (I could be biased in that regard, because I do genuinely think Western European tax rates are simply too high.)
Most concerning is that Germany and France (and Scandinavia, too) seem to be acting out the caricature so often ascribed to them by the Anglo-American right.(See this European Voice article posted on the site of the American Enterprise Instritute: “Schr?der tax plan dubbed ?economically illiterate’.“)