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President Barroso welcomes commitments on energy and tax evasion and fraud

President Barroso

President Barroso welcomed the commitment at today's European Council to make progress on energy policy and tax evasion and fraud.

Updated: 22 May 2013

On energy policy, the President welcomed the fact that there was support for the Commission's approach for what he called a no regrets scenario, with action in five areas: completing the internal energy market; investing in innovation and infrastructure; committing to greater energy efficiency; exploiting renewable sources more cheaply and diversifying supplies."

He made clear that while "there is no silver bullet to solve the strategic energy challenges that Europe faces, there is much we can do if we act together through Europe. The status quo is not an option, which is why we really need to implement what has been agreed today."

Tackling on tax evasion and fraud, he stressed that "it is also about fairness, because we estimate €1 trillion lost each year to tax evasion and avoidance, the equivalent of a year’s health spending across all member states."

"I’m pleased that some decisions have been taken today. Indeed there was a reference to a principle that I believe it is critically important – the principle of automatic exchange of information at European Union level", he said.

"The reality is that citizens have high expectations that we will deliver a fairer tax deal for everyone. Today's globalised world is also changing in a way that we have to look at these issues in a much more attentive way. Next week’s Country Specific Recommendations that the Commission will present will highlight the scope for member states to improve their own tax systems", the President added.

Presentation and press material available below

Energy and tax fraud on the European Council agenda

21 May 2013

Ahead of this week's European Council, President Barroso on Tuesday addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He stressed energy and the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion as the two main topics of the Council meeting.

"These two debates are crucial at this moment in time", the President said.

"They matter for our public finances, for the competitiveness of our businesses and for the cost of living of our citizens. Even more, they are essential for the credibility of our efforts to fight the crisis, for the political capital we are willing to invest in it and the legitimacy of the demands the crisis makes on those who struggle to pay their energy bills or pay their taxes."

Progress on both energy and taxation is crucial to show that, at European level and in Member States, political leaders are willing and able to mobilise every growth lever they have at hand and to give any impetus they possibly can to help citizens and businesses through these very difficult times, the President stressed. "A stronger European energy policy is a particularly important tool to achieve this".

Tax fraud and tax evasion are equally important, he highlighted, not just for their economic impact but for the legitimacy of our efforts as well: "The total loss of revenue due to illegal fraud and unacceptable evasion is estimated to be around one trillion euros a year. How can we explain to honest households and businesses who are feeling the squeeze yet still paying their fair share of taxes, that there are other parts of society and enterprise who are deliberately avoiding paying up? How can we justify that fiscal consolidation is requiring Member States to make difficult choices to reduce expenditure, yet at the same time there are whole piles of cash that should be in the public purse but are never collected?"

President Barroso highlighted the need to come to concrete conclusions and commitments: "At a time when debate about Europe is all too often a futile shouting match between believers and non-believers, this is a discussion that separates those who like to talk from those who are willing to act, and those who prefer to attract attention to themselves from those who are determined to achieve results for citizens".

Speech by President Barroso on the preparations of the 22 May European Council

Read the letter from President Barroso to European leaders ahead of the European Council and background notes on Energy and Tax fraud and evasion, 8 May 2013

Watch debate in EP on the preparations of the European Council, 21 May 2013

Watch the video of the preparation of the European Council, EP plenary session with the participation of José Manuel Barroso, 22 May 2013

President's presentation on energy at the European Council, 22 May 2013

President's presentation on tax at the European Council, 22 May 2013 pdf - 587 KB [587 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) português (pt)

The EU’s toolbox to fight against tax fraud and tax evasion pdf - 130 KB [130 KB]

Statement by President Barroso following the European Council meeting, 22 May 2013

Watch video from the European Council

Read the Council Conclusions