Comparative Fiscal Federalism

Lessons to be Learned for the EU


‘Fiscal federalism’ describes the financial relations between government levels in multilevel polities, mainly federal states: The Federation and its downstream entities are connected financially by a system of rights, obligations, and competences like taxation, spending rights or transfers of funds, while also the downstream government levels enjoy a certain autonomy in fiscal matters.

In their consequence, the steps taken by the EU and its Member States to overcome the financial and sovereign debt crises, with the introduction of new measures and procedures to govern fiscal relations may well develop into a comparable system. Also, these measures led to fierce discussions about sustainability, stabilisation, growth, the setting of right or wrong incentives and solidarity.

Informed by these developments, lawyers, economists and political scientists from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the US led by the SCEUS researchers Stefan Griller, Florian Huber, and Sonja Puntscher Riekmann united to sound out their respective fiscal federalisms on mechanisms, procedures and institutions that possibly can be made useful with regard to future fiscal relations in the EU.

The project is divided into three steps: Step 1 aims at a detailed analysis of fiscal federalisms in the seven federations. Step 2 will answer a similar set of questions for the current EU. Based on our findings, we will finally develop suggestions for instruments of fiscal federalism in the EU that are efficient in day-to-day political practice and can be expected to preclude future sovereign debt crises, while securing a level of democratic control that can be expected from a 21st century Western polity.

The FWF funded, three years research-project started in October 2019. A kick-off meeting in November 2019 at the SCEUS set out a detailed research- and publication agenda. Two more workshops will take place in October 2020 and 2021, respectively. The final outcome of the project will not only be published in a book, but also presented to EU decision makers at a conference in Brussels in June 2022.


Barrierefreiheit: Kurzbeschreibung des BildesFiscal Federalism Conference


GRILLER Stefan, Univ.-Prof. Dr.
Project Lead

PUFF Roman, Mag.
Project Administration
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