Extracts from tthe press conference by László Kovács on measures taken to improve transparency, exchange of information and fair tax competition
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 28/04/2009
On 28 April the European Commission has adopted a Communication identifying actions that EU Member States should have taken to promote "good governance" in the tax area (i.e. more transparency, exchange of information and fair tax competition). The Communication identified how good governance could have been improved within the EU. It also listed the tools the EU and its Member States have at their disposal to ensure that good governance principles be applied at international level. Finally, it called on Member States to adopt an approach that was more coherent with good governance principles in their bilateral relations with third countries and in international fora. The Communication built on the existing EU policy on good governance and the recent G20 conclusions concerning uncooperative tax jurisdictions.
At a press conference in Brussels, László Kovács, Member of the EC in charge of Taxation and Customs Union, presented these actions to improve transparency in the tax area, exchange of information and fair tax competition.
Our purpose is to have the principle of good governance in tax matters at global level, including Switzerland and including countries in the Far East or in the other parts of the globe, the Commissioner told journalists. Commission is not acting at all against Switzerland, said László Kovács.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view on the speakers
||SOUNDBITE by László Kovács, Member of the EC in charge of Taxation and Customs Union (in ENGLISH): I am here to speak about the recent Communication of the Commission which I will present next week to the EcoFin (EU Finance Ministers' meeting). It is about good governance in the field of taxation, which is aimed at ensuring transparency and also exchange of information on request, not to use bank secrecy as an excuse for supporting tax fraud, tax evasion and money laundering; and to follow the principles of fair tax competition. This is what this Communication is to serve. The other document I spoke about is the Saving Taxation Directive which the Commission proposes to amend. It is already on the table of the EcoFin Council and at the expert level they have already discussed it. So it will soon reach the level of the ministers. Hedge funds are not an object in these two documents.
||Cutaway: members of the audience
||SOUNDBITE by László Kovács (in ENGLISH): The Commission is not waging war against Switzerland. Our purpose is to have the principle of good governance in tax matters at the global level, including Switzerland and including countries in the Far East or in the other parts of the globe. As far as Switzerland's position is concerned, whenever we claim, and that is our intention, that bank secrecy cannot be used as pretext against giving information on request which can be used for protecting tax fraud, tax evasion or even money laundering. As far as I know Switzerland does understand the position of the Commission. I am looking forward to have personal contacts with the relevant politicians of Switzerland and discuss this matter. I am not at all afraid that they would be hostile towards the intention of the Commission.
||SOUNDBITE by László Kovács (in ENGLISH): what we want to get a mandate for is talks with the non-EU European countries, including Switzerland, on the exchange of information on request and also on tax fraud issues like we are already having talks with Liechtenstein.
||Cutaway: members of the audience