Public Affairs Networking
19/03 – Media reaction to the Brussels tax package

Several European media say that, in the wake of LuxLeaks, the European Commission presented yesterday a package of proposals aimed at making it more difficult for multinational companies to practice tax evasion, as of January 2016. While all EU member states may still establish special regulations, they will have to automatically exchange the tax rulings they have issued with other EU member states every three months.

The rules aim to discourage governments from giving special tax breaks by forcing them to publicly disclose more tax information, as reported – among others – in The INYT. Many media report on Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici’s point of view on the subject. In an opinion piece published by several European newspapers, notably L’Opinion, Mr Moscovici denounces the “outrage” of seeing “powerful, highly profitable firms reduce their tax liability by the aggressive exploitation of loopholes”. “The measure is full”, he writes, and in spite of the “significant progress” achieved in recent years, it is time “for fairness and transparency” as regards corporate taxation.

In Netherlands’s Trouw, the Commissioner Moscovici believes that this “transparency” is likely to reclaim people’s confidence in fair taxation, considering it as “a powerful mechanism”, as reported in De Tijd. Die Presse quotes Mr Moscovici underlining that Brussels “must ensure that taxes on profits are once again paid where they are actually generated.” “The tolerance for companies involved in tax evasion, as well as for the states that allow them to do that, has reached its limit,” he said, as cited by Capital Daily.

Denmark’s Politiken says that Mr Moscovici however stressed that the EU is still facing challenges. Il Sole 24 Ore quotes EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, underlining that “everyone has to pay their fair share of taxes.” The initiative of the EC receives contradictory comments, especially in Germany. Hendrik Kafsack believes that it is an “acceptable first step”, as quoted in FAZ. A Deutschlandfunk programme reports that Christian Democrats and Socialists of the European Parliament welcome the plan, while MEP Sven Giegold (The Greens) argues that the new regulation is “insufficient”.

Along the same lines, Margit Schratzenstaller considers, in a commentary for Der Standard, that this package is a beginning but does not go far enough. Suzanne Lynch’s analysis provided for The Irish Times says that “the European Commission’s tax rulings proposal may be overly ambitious” Meanwhile, Jyllands Posten adds that European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager stated that a new plan of action will be put forward in June.

Mr Moscovici announced a second package of measures on tax competition in the EU’s internal market before the summer and the re-opening of the debate on a common corporate tax base in Europe, as also written in L’Opinion. Jyllands Posten further recalls that it is EC President Jean-Claude Juncker who charted the European Commission’s pro-active course against tax evasion. ©europeanunion2015

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