PhD defence by Susi Hjorth Bærentzen

Title of the lecture: Effectiveness of General Anti-Avoidance Rules. NB. Due to the Covid-19 situation the thesis will be defended digitally via Microsoft Teams.


02.09.2020 kl. 16.00 - 18.00


Title of the thesis: Effectiveness of General Anti-Avoidance Rules. 

Susi Hjort Bærentzen

Summary of the thesis

The study titled "Effectiveness of General Anti-Avoidance rules. The Challenges, Limits and Potentials of General Anti-Avoidance Rules" in international tax law is an interdisciplinary tax law and economics study conducted to assess the effectiveness of the general anti-avoidance rules introduced with the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) and the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) initiatives. From a legal perspective, the study builds on the hypothesis, that even though international approximation in the area of general anti-avoidance rules will in theory lead to greater legal certainty for the taxpayers, extensive alterations like these might not have that effect. This hypothesis is used to examine whether the rules are suitable to ensure the international alignment intended with them. From an economic perspective, the study builds on the hypothesis that too much uncertainty may cause the taxpayers to refrain from valid business activities otherwise intended with the alterations. If this effect becomes too significant, it may lead to adversarial economic effects and ultimately prevent the fulfillment of the economic objectives of the general anti-avoidance rules, which is to prevent tax avoidance and thereby grow the revenue pie for the participating states at OECD and EU level.

In order to test these hypotheses, the study provides an overview of the principles of international taxation and their conflicts, which lead to tax competition between states and to double taxation, and the rationale for avoiding these conflicts. This facilitates the study of how the tax competition between states is balanced against the aim to ensure that income accrued by economic activity in the relevant states is in fact taxed correspondingly in these states. The study builds on the interlocking relationship between the OECD and the EU, as both aspects are key to assessing the two general anti-avoidance rules and evaluate their effectiveness as a measure to achieve the objectives at both OECD and EU level. In order to do this, delineation is made between accepted tax structuring from illegal abuse within the framework of the EU and the OECD with reference to economic theory and to multinational firm theory.

Furthermore, a network analysis for analyzing MNE behavior by utilizing the global tax treaty network is used in order to assess the economic impact of the anti-abuse provisions to determine whether the general anti-avoidance rules as a measure will have the intended effect. By applying the recent limitations throughout the OECD and the EU to this analysis, it is possible to theorize about the economic effectiveness of the measures. To test the alignment of the rules throughout the participating states, four sample countries (France, Germany, Denmark and Australia) have been selected for a comparative analysis of their domestic history with general anti-avoidance rules to assess pre-existing tendencies and developments and hold them against the international development to identify the potentials and challenges to the international alignment of the rules.  


15:40: Pre-meeting, assessment committee, moderator

16:00: Welcome by Moderator

16:05: PhD presentation (40 min)

16.45: Break

17:00: Opponents examination

17:30: Questions from the audience 

18.00: End of defence


  • Professor Irene J. J. Burgers, University of Groningen (chair)
  • Professor Georg WilfriedKofler, University of Linz
  • Professor Sigrid-Joan Catharine Hemels, University Rotterdam 


Professor Erik Werlauff, Aalborg University Business School


Professor, Head of Business School Christian Nielsen


Associate Professor Jens Holmgren

View the PhD defence live on Youtube

Click this link to view Susi Bærentzen's PhD defence live on Youtoube: https://youtu.be/wTQ20m9f1TA.

How to participate

Due to the Covid-19 situation the thesis will be defended digitally via Microsoft Teams. Please click here to participate

Be aware that you must be muted during the whole defence, also your camera must be off.
Please be present at least 15 minutes before the defence begins. The channel opens at 15:30.

Participants will during the first break email their questions to Christian Nielsen: chn@business.aau.dk
If there are no questions, the assessment committee joins in another ”room” and evaluates. Participants stay in the “defence-room” and wait for the assessment committee to join the “defence-room” again.


Aalborg University Business School

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