Cross-border tax rulings: Council approves transparency rules

06 October 2015

The European Council reached a political agreement on a directive aimed at improving transparency in the assurances given by member states to companies about how their taxes are calculated.

The directive is one of a number of initiatives aimed at preventing corporate tax avoidance.   

It will require member states to exchange information automatically on advance cross-border tax rulings, as well as advance pricing arrangements. Member states receiving the information will be able to request further information where appropriate. And the Commission will be able to develop a secure central directory, where the information exchanged would be stored. The directory will be accessible to all member states and, to the extent that it is required for monitoring the correct implementation of the directive, to the Commission.  [...]

Tax planning  

Tax planning by companies has become more elaborate in recent years, developing across jurisdictions. It involves, for example, the shifting of taxable profits towards states with more advantageous tax regimes, or eroding the tax base.   

The directive will ensure that where one member state issues an advance tax ruling or transfer pricing arrangement, any other member state affected is in a position to monitor the situation and the possible impact on its tax revenue.  

International fora  

The agreement on the directive is in line with developments within the OECD and its work on tax base erosion and profit shifting. G20 finance ministers are expected to approve the outcome of that work at a meeting in Lima on 8 October, which will then be submitted to G20 leaders at a summit in Antalya on 15 and 16 November 2015.  


The directive will be adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting, once the European Parliament has given its opinion and it has been finalised in all official languages.  

The new rules will have to be applied from 1 January 2017. In the meantime, existing obligations to exchange information between member states will stay in place. 

Concerning rulings issued before 1 January 2017, the following rules will apply: 

 Package of measures

The Commission proposed the directive as part of a package of measures in March 2015. The text amends directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation, which sets out practical arrangements for exchanging information. 

Full press release

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