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Taxation and Customs Union

Quality of Taxation in the Country Specific Recommendations


Following the Commission's adoption of recommendations, Commissioner Šemeta said:

"The quality of taxation can be a "make or break" factor in Member States' efforts to consolidate budgets and establish sustainable economic growth. Our recommendations today in the field of taxation are focussed largely on shifting away from distortive taxes towards growth-friendly ones; tackling tax evasion; and broadening tax bases to make revenue collection more efficient."


International Tax Review's Award: Commissioner Šemeta sets out case for eliminating tax obstacles in single market


24 May 2012, Brussels. Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner for taxation and customs union, audit and anti-fraud, won this year's Editor's Choice Award at International Tax Review's European Awards.

In his acceptance letter Commissioner wrote: "I am pleased to accept this award in the category "person that has had the biggest impact on tax practise or administration in Europe in the previous 12 months" as recognition that my actions to create a real single market from the tax perspective is also something important for tax professionals. In the EU we are faced with major challenges in terms of fiscal consolidation as well as promoting growth and employment. Taxation has an important role to play here.

In particular we cannot expect our citizens to accept cuts in public services and increases in taxation without first looking to ensure that existing tax rules are fully respected and that tax systems are sufficiently robust and fit for purpose. I believe that we need to concentrate our efforts on developing tax systems that ensure a fair division of the burden, are efficient and cost effective and are not open to abuse. "


Commissioner Šemeta welcomes European Parliament's strong support for the Financial Transactions Tax


Speaking after the European Parliament's vote in favour of the Commission's proposal for a financial transactions tax today, Commissioner Šemeta said:

"I warmly welcome today's endorsement by the European Parliament of our proposal for a financial transactions tax.

This vote is further recognition of everything that an EU FTT has to offer: a fairer tax system, greater stability of the financial sector, and a new source of revenue that does not ask more of the everyday taxpayer.

The FTT is an opportunity to be seized.

From a small tax we can generate substantial revenues to finance growth-enhancing measures, support growth-friendly tax reforms or help fund global challenges such as development and climate change.

Taxing the financial sector is a question of fairness. Banks and financial institutions received – and continue to receive - massive support from the public sector to overcome the crisis. It is not unreasonable to expect them to contribute, in the same way as other sectors, to our collective recovery.

The FTT will help re-build the damaged relationship between the financial sector and the ordinary citizen, by pointing this sector more towards the real economy and helping to restore confidence.  

It is now in the hands of Europe's Finance Ministers to reach a quick decision on the Commission's proposal for a financial transactions tax. This is what citizens – and now the European Parliament – expect."


Statement on Savings Tax Agreements and VAT strategy


Brussels, 15 May 2012. Following discussions on the Savings Tax Agreements at the Economic Financial Affairs Council, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Algirdas Šemeta said: "I am extremely frustrated that we could not reach agreement today on the mandates to negotiate new and stronger savings tax agreements with Switzerland and the 4 other third countries. Tackling tax evasion is a growth-friendly way of boosting national budgets. How can any Member State possibly justify blocking progress in this area?"

Following discussions on the VAT strategy at the Economic Financial Affairs Council, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Algirdas Šemeta said: "On a more positive note, Ministers did endorse today the new VAT Strategy which I put forward last December. This supports the calls from citizens, businesses and administrations for a complete overhaul of the current system. We must make the EU VAT regime simpler, more efficient and more fraud-proof."


Commission proposes new VAT rules for vouchers


Brussels , 10 May 2012 – Today, the European Commission proposed to update EU VAT rules to ensure the uniform tax treatment of all types of vouchers across all Member States. Vouchers represent a market of more than € 52 billion per year in the European Union. Prepaid telecommunications account for almost 70% of the voucher market, followed by gift vouchers and discount vouchers. However, differences in national VAT rules on vouchers lead to serious market inefficiencies. Instead of being able to really benefit from the Single Market, companies face problems of double taxation and difficulties in expanding their business across borders. The new rules seek to redress this situation.

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit, said:
"Vouchers are a booming business in Europe, with millions bought and sold every week. There is no justification for this ever-expanding market to be held back because of uncertainty and complications in the tax rules. With the new VAT rules proposed today, we can move to a genuine single market for vouchers, to the benefit of businesses, citizens and tax administrations."


EU-US agreement on global supply chain


4 May 2012, Brussels. Today an important step forward has been taken in EU-US trade relations and in securing the global supply chain. After several years of negotiations, the EU and USA have agreed to mutually recognise each other's "trusted traders".

Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Algirdas Šemeta said: "Today's agreement is a major step forward in the EU-US trade relationship. At a time when businesses need all the support they can get, this will make life easier and cheaper for many transatlantic traders. It will also help to ensure that security checks on traded goods are more focussed and effective, further improving the protection that customs provides for each and every citizen." 


Council adopts new rules on collection of excise duties


Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta welcomes the adoption today by the Council of a regulation for new rules on administrative cooperation in the field of excise duties. The adoption of this regulation will make it easier to for Member States to control the movement of excise goods and speed up the collection of excise duties.



Commission welcomes EP positive vote on discharge for the 2010 budget


Brussels, 10 May 2012 – The Commission welcomes today's decision by the European Parliament to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the 2010 budget.

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, said: "I greatly appreciate the support that the European Parliament has shown today for our work to ensure that EU funds are correctly controlled and managed. The very constructive dialogue between our two institutions in the run up to today's vote has confirmed a common ambition to ensure that EU taxpayers' money is spent properly, and spent well. Huge improvements have been made over the past 10 years but we can't stop here. The Commission has tabled even stronger measures for EU financial management under the next generation of spending programmes, which will help to reduce errors even further. I count on the co-legislators, Parliament and Council to back these measures, so that we can continue to assure citizens that we are doing everything in our power to protect their money."


Last update: 24/04/2013 |  Top