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Property Tax Regimes in Southern Europe: Implications for Urban Land Consumption and Revenue Collection

Blanca Fernandez Milan, Felix Creutzig

Regional urban planning of recent years in Southern Europe has favoured urban sprawl with generous provision of peripheral expansion and provision of motorized-oriented transport infrastructure. The current context of budgetary austerity leads local governments looking at local tax-based funding alternatives. The EU strong lead in environmental policy and approach to sustainable urban development provides an adequate framework to explore policy options that provide local governments with revenues and minimize urban sprawl. We assess existing tax regimes on immovable properties according to their performance on pre-defined policy objectives: per capita land consumption, commuting distances and revenue collection. We also look at the influences on land use regulations due to the party controlling the local government. We discuss the potential of land-based policies to shape urban form efficiently while raising targeted revenue for low-carbon infrastructures. We suggest a framework at the European level to foster information exchange and give expert-support to local authorities. The identification of land-based policy designs specific to each context could largely contribute the EU sustainability debate.

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