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The Fight Against International Tax Avoidance: European Union Policies


Admission requirements

Only students of the Advanced MSc International Relations and Diplomacy programme can take this course.


After the 2008 financial crisis and prompted by media reports about aggressive tax planning strategies used by MNEs (multinational enterprises), the issue of base erosion and profit shifting reached the top of the political agenda. In this course, we will distinguish the concepts of “tax evasion” and “tax avoidance” and discuss the basic principles of taxation of MNEs, including how MNEs shift profits to low tax jurisdiction. Then, we will turn to discussing policy responses that have been adopted by states and international organizations. In particular, we will investigate the role of the European Union in promoting policy standards on base erosion and profit shifting both internally and externally through the EU Anti-Avoidance Package, the EU Fair and Simple Taxation Tax Package and the Standard of Good Tax Governance. Since 2008, the EU has developed tools to induce non-EU countries to comply with global tax standards. For example, it has established a process to list countries that do not comply with global standards as “non-cooperative jurisdiction”. We will investigate the impact of this process on non-EU countries, discuss the critiques made by different stakeholders, and debate how EU tax policy should evolve in the future.

This course welcomes interaction between different areas of law, public policy and international relations.

Course objectives

By the end of this course the students will have integrated knowledge about basic tax policy questions as well as about the challenges that the EU members and developing countries face in the fight against tax avoidance and in promulgating equitable rules.

Students will also have developed their research skills, have exercised public speaking, leadership, presenting, academic writing, and social skills (cooperation, working in groups).


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

  • Seminars: 4 seminars of 3.5 hours (total 14 hours)

  • Literature reading: 8 hours/week (total 32 hours)

  • Literature review: 20 hours

  • Presentation: 24 hours

  • Essay: 50 hours

Attendance Policy
Attendance is mandatory, subject to course structure (see syllabus for details).

Assessment method

  • Literature review (20%)

  • Presentation (20%)

  • Essay (60%)

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2022-2023 remain valid during the academic year 2023-2024.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2023-2024 remain valid during the academic year 2024-2025.

  • The assessment method has changed from last academic year. Students that have valid partial grades from last academic year, may complete the course according to last years assessment methods.

  • Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the next academic year.*In cases of exceptional circumstances, a student may apply to the board of examiners for a resit to complete the course in the same academic year.

Reading list

  • Mosquera Valderrama, I. J. A new wind change in direct taxation. 20 Challenges for the EU in 2020’s. Special Issue German Law Journal.

  • Mosquera Valderrama, I. J. The EU standard of good governance in tax matters for third (non-EU) countries. Intertax.

  • Panayi, C. H. (2017). The Europeanization of good tax governance. Yearbook of European Law, 36, 442–495.

  • Martin Hearson, “The IPE of Global Tax Governance,” in The Routledge Handbook to Global Political Economy (Routledge, 2020), 673–90.

  • Abraham Newman and David Bach, “The European Union as Hardening Agent: Soft Law and the Diffusion of Global Financial Regulation,” Journal of European Public Policy 21, no. 3 (2014): 430–52.

  • EU Parliamentary Hearing 1 December 2020: Harmful Tax Competition: Single Market and Outside the EU. Organized by FISC Subcommittee in Tax Matters. [Link]

  • Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Business Taxation for the 21st Century dated 18 May 2021 (COM (2021) 251 final

  • Oei, Shu-Yi. "World Tax Policy in the World Tax Polity? An Event History Analysis of OECD/G20 BEPS Inclusive Framework Membership." Yale Journal of International Law 47 (2021).

  • Collin, Matthew. “Does the Threat of Being Blacklisted Change Behavior? Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the EU’s Tax Haven Listing Process.” Working Paper, 2020.


The programme will register the students on Usis based on the group division. Use Brightspace for course information.


Prof. Dr. Irma J. Mosquera Valderrama
Professor Tax Governance, EU Jean Monnet Chair on EU Tax Governance, PhD Dean and Lead Researcher ERC GLOBTAXGOV Project, Leiden Law School


  • This course is an elective designed for MIRD students.

  • Previous course title was "EU and Tax Sovereignty: Discussing the Role of the EU In International Tax Law Making"

  • This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course.

  • Second year students have priority for the registration to this course.

This course is intensive, with all sessions taking place in the month of March.