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Spotlight on Young Researchers: Antonio Ancora



In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.

In the current International and European legal framework, there is no legal certainty in taxation, especially for transfer pricing transactions among Multinational Enterprises. As part of his PhD, Antonio Ancora asks: ‘Is there a legal instrument capable to re-establish tax certainty in the current international context characterized by the aftermath of BEPS and EU State aid investigations?’

The goal of Antonio’s research project is to define limits and methodology, in order to re-establish the fundamental principle of legal certainty.

Legal certainty in the aftermath of Amazon, Fiat and Huhtamaki tax investigations

It is widely known that Luxembourg is one of the countries that have in recent repeatedly been affected by State aid investigations on Advance Price Arrangement: Amazon, Fiat, Huhtamaki to name a few companies. Advance Price Arrangement is a legal instrument issued by the tax administration: Its purpose is to provide tax certainty on the application of tax laws and complex standards.

“Although there are positive effects of OECD BEPS actions and EU State aid investigations, tax uncertainty represents the main side effect. The implications of the legal instrument I intend to propose will, hopefully, encourage all participating’ players to consider a more ‘legally certain’ approach in their analysis by considering State aid as an independent risk factor.” Antonio explains.

“A ‘legally certain’ approach highlights the major business trends and impacts on business expectations of the local and international enterprises, which is expected to bring highly relevant international investments not only to Luxembourg but also within Europe.”

In the first instance, Antonio’s tax policy proposal aims to give instruments to protect taxpayer rights with a spillover effect on fostering investments and compliance.

United Nations mandate in Lebanon inspired PhD

Before embarking on his PhD at the University of Luxembourg, Antonio spent several years working in international contracts and procurement, and had two mandates from the United Nations, during one of which he served as chief of the customs office in Lebanon, which inspired his PhD topic:

“I faced legal issues related to differences on the methodologies that apply to Customs and Transfer pricing, although they may regard the same cross-border transaction. It was at that moment that I decided to write my PhD research proposal in International Tax Law.

“I chose to Luxembourg for my PhD since it represents, as a world financial center, a top research environment to study International and European Tax Law. Moreover, I was fascinated by the scientific articles written by Prof. Aikaterini Pantazatou, Associate professor in Tax Law at the University of Luxembourg.”

Antonio Ancora is currently in the second year of his PhD at the University of Luxembourg. Besides his PhD, Antonio has selected and coached the students of his institution’s LLM in European and International Taxation, preparing them to participate in the International Moot Court competition in Tax Law: The  team reached the best position of the University History, ranking 5th in the world.

Moreover, along with Associate Professor Joachim Arts, he has launched the Negotiation Course for the Master’s students of the Luxembourg Center for Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

About Spotlight on Young Researchers

Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. The campaign is now in its 5th year, with 60+ researchers already featured. Discover more young researcher stories below.


Antonio Ancora