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26 November 2013

Commissioner Šemeta: EU taxation - Taking stock and looking ahead

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Šemeta discussed current and future developments in EU tax policy, including i.a. tax evasion, the Savings Directive, the CCCTB and the FTT.

Tax evasion

At international level, with the backing of the G8 and G20, automatic exchange of information has been accepted as the new global standard. And the OECD action plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) has been endorsed as the international response to aggressive tax planning and corporate tax avoidance… At EU level, the tools for a better fight against tax evasion are there, and so is the highest political backing. Now it is for the Member States to keep pace.

Savings Directive

[The ECOFIN failed to reach agreement on the Savings Directive.] I have asked the Lithuanian Presidency to put this point on the agenda again in December. A commitment was taken at the Summit in May to agree this file before the end of the year – and it is a commitment that must be honoured. As I told EU finance ministers last week, the world is moving on automatic information exchange and we cannot be left behind.

On this note, I should inform you that negotiations with Monaco, Andorra, Lichtenstein and San Marino have already begun and are progressing well. And we will start with Switzerland as soon as they have their own mandate in the coming weeks. I have personally invested in these talks from the moment we were given the mandate to negotiate, and I can assure you that I will continue to do so to get the best result.


Allow me now to turn to some of our other key tax files where, I must admit, I would like to see a lot more progress.

Starting with the CCCTB. This file is advancing at technical level. But if I'm honest, I am getting impatient with the pace of discussions. It is time that we moved to a real political debate on the CCCTB, especially given its pertinence in our wider work against corporate tax avoidance.

The CCCTB offers a “double-dividend”. It could eliminate many opportunities for profit shifting by multinational companies – as is recognised in BEPS - while also simplifying corporate taxation for cross-border businesses. Some political momentum therefore needs to be injected into the negotiations if we don't want to miss the boat.

Moving on to the Financial Transaction Tax, the onus now lies with the 11 MS to move – and move quickly. There is nothing to be gained by protracted delays.

The Commission has done everything it can to support negotiations, and the Parliament's input has been highly constructive. It is clear that changes will be needed to the proposal in order to reach a compromise – and that is fine, so long as the core objectives are maintained and they create don't opportunities for circumvention. Plenty of feasible options are open for discussion. Now it's time for a political push.

Full speech

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