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22 May 2013

European Council Conclusions on tax fraud and tax evasion

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The Council agreed to accelerate work in the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. In particular, work will be taken forward as a matter of priority on promoting and broadening the scope of the automatic exchange of information at all levels.


10. It is important to take effective steps to fight tax evasion and tax fraud, particularly in the current context of fiscal consolidation, in order to protect revenues and ensure public confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of tax systems. Increased efforts are required in this field, combining measures at the national, European and global levels, in full respect of Member States' competences and of the Treaties. Recalling the conclusions adopted by the Council on 14 May 2013, the European Council calls for rapid progress on the following issues:

(a) priority will be given to efforts to extend the automatic exchange of information at the EU and global levels. At the level of the EU, the Commission intends to propose amendments to the Directive on administrative cooperation in June in order for the automatic exchange of information to cover a full range of income. At the international level, building on ongoing work in the EU and on the momentum recently created by the initiative taken by a group of Member States, the EU will play a key role in promoting the automatic exchange of information as the new international standard, taking account of existing EU arrangements. The European Council welcomes ongoing efforts made in the G8, G20 and OECD to develop a global standard;

(b) further to the agreement reached on 14 May 2013 on the mandate to improve the EU's agreements with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino, negotiations will begin as soon as possible to ensure that these countries continue to apply measures equivalent to those in the EU. In the light of this and noting the consensus on the scope of the revised Directive on the taxation of savings income, the European Council called for its adoption before the end of the year;

(c) Member States will also give priority to the concrete follow-up to the Action Plan on strengthening the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion;

(d) in order to counter VAT fraud, the European Council expects the Council to adopt the Directives on the quick reaction mechanism and on the reverse charge mechanism by the end of June 2013 at the latest;

(e) work will be carried forward as regards the Commission's recommendations on aggressive tax planning and profit shifting. The Commission intends to present a proposal before the end of the year for the revision of the "parent/subsidiary" Directive, and is reviewing the anti-abuse provisions in relevant EU legislation. The European Council looks forward to the OECD's forthcoming report on base erosion and profit-shifting;

(f) it is important to continue work within the EU on the elimination of harmful tax measures. To that end, work should be carried out on the strengthening of the Code of Conduct on business taxation on the basis of its existing mandate;

(g) efforts taken against base erosion, profit shifting, lack of transparency and harmful tax measures also need to be pursued globally, with third countries and within relevant international fora, such as the OECD, so as to ensure a level-playing field, on the basis of coordinated EU positions. In particular, further work is necessary to ensure that third countries, including developing countries, meet appropriate standards of good governance in tax matters;

(h) there is a need to deal with tax evasion and fraud and to fight money laundering, within the internal market and vis-à-vis non-cooperative third countries and jurisdictions, in a comprehensive manner. In both cases the identification of beneficial ownership, including as regards companies, trusts and foundations, is essential. The revision of the third anti-money laundering Directive should be adopted by the end of the year;

(i) the proposal amending the Directives on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups will be examined notably with a view to ensuring country-by-country reporting by large companies and groups;

(j) efforts are required to respond to the challenges of taxation in the digital economy, taking full account of ongoing work in the OECD. The Commission intends to assess these issues further, in advance of the October 2013 European Council discussion on the digital agenda.

11. The Council will report back on progress on all these issues by December 2013.

Full conclusions

© European Council

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