EconPol Policy Briefs

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All for One and One for Green Energy: Community Renewable Investments in Europe

Valeriya Azarova (ifo Institute), Jed Cohen (Salt River Project Integrated System Planning and Support), Andrea Kollmann (Johannes Kepler University), Johannes Reichl (Johannes Kepler University)

Community renewable energy (CRE) projects are gaining momentum in Europe and could play a significant role in reaching the EU’s accelerated decarbonisation goals. This is a key message that can be derived from this EconPol Policy Brief. Based on a survey across 31 European countries the authors find a high interest in community renewable investments, especially in countries where this model is not yet very common. However, the design of the project matters. The study finds that certain attributes lead to higher incentives for citizen investment. One decisive attribute is the form of the administrative entity. Most respondents prefer CREs to be run by a local cooperative rather than by a utility company. Another important finding of the survey is that the belief in economic benefits of renewable energy projects is a more important driver for citizen investment than the belief in general environmental benefits. Hence, if project developers and policymakers tailor CRE projects and campaigns according to local interests, this could lead to a significant increase in the uptake of CRE schemes throughout Europe.

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Who Will Pay Amount A?

Michael Devereux and Martin Simmler (Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation)

The latest OECD tax reform will affect only 78 of the world’s 500 largest companies and only about 37 European companies, this EconPol Policy Brief reveals. The number of companies is so low, mainly because the tax applies only to companies with revenues above USD 20 billion which earn a rate of return on revenue above 10%. Reducing the revenue threshold for multinational companies from USD 20 billion to EUR 750 million would increase the number of companies affected by a factor of 13. The relative gain of reducing the threshold below USD 5 billion is small relative to the increase in the number of companies involved, the authors estimate. These are some of the key findings of the study examining the consequences of the OECD’s Pillar 1 reform.

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Taxing the Residual Profit of Multinational Enterprises: A Critique of Formulaic Apportionment and a Proposal

Wolfram F. Richter (TU Dortmund University, CESifo Munich, IWH Halle, IZA Bonn)

In the context of a changed digital economy, the OECD has put forward a proposal that requires large multinational companies to pay some of their income taxes where revenue is generated; i.e. in countries where the consumers or users are located. It is suggested that taxing rights should be allocated using a revenue-based formula. This policy brief argues against the use of such a rule that requires the multilateral assessment of MNEs’ worldwide profit. The need to define a common consolidated tax base would disproportionately complicate the search for political agreement within the Inclusive Framework. Instead, the OECD should apply more practical rules that rely on unilateral profit splitting and do not require uniform international rules on ac-counting. Countries could be granted the right to impose a withholding tax on outbound pay-ments, such as payments for digital services. To the extent that there are allocable costs, as for example with pharmaceuticals and vaccines, these should be tax-deductible on the condition that the country receiving the payments adopt the new tax regime.  

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How Fast Must Vaccination Campaigns Proceed in Order to Beat Rising Covid-19 Infection Numbers?

Claudius Gros (Goethe University Frankfurt), Daniel Gros (EconPol Europe, CEPS)

Facing a third Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2021 a central question for European policymakers is at what point a vaccination campaign has acquired sufficient speed to overcome the increase in infections, so as to justify lifting NPIs at least partially. The authors of this study derive an expression for a critical threshold that is shaped by three factors: First, the mortality risk from a Covid-19 infection increases exponentially with age. Second, the sizes of age cohorts decrease linearly at the top of the population pyramid. And third, vaccination proceeds at an increasing speed. The study finds that it is easier for countries with a comparatively young population and fast vaccination programs to reach this critical threshold than for countries with an older population and slower vaccination programs. An important conclusion of the research is, that slow vaccination hurts twice: The number of vaccinated people increases only at a slow rate. But it also means that vaccination programs’ ability to control aggressive new Covid-19 strains is strongly reduced. 

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Incentives for Accelerating the Production of Covid-19 Vaccines in the Presence of Adjustment Costs

Claudius Gros (Goethe University Frankfurt), Daniel Gros (EconPol Europe, CEPS)

Delays in the availability of vaccines are very costly for society but existing fixed price contracts provide no incentives for producers to speed up delivery: a dose delivered tomorrow receives the same price as a dose delivered in the next quarter. The benefits for early delivery are huge for society, but non-existent for suppliers. A better contract would have the price fully  variable over time. In this policy brief, the authors show that it is straightforward to design an optimal contract, which aligns the time paths of the price with that of the social value of a vaccination. There is a clear policy conclusion: contracts should contain incentives for accelerated production. Vaccines delivered early should command a higher price.

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