Taxation and Customs Union
Commissioner's Speech in the Brussels Tax Forum "Setting out the tax agenda for a fairer contribution of the financial sector"
Speaking at the Brussels Tax Forum on 28 March 2011, Commissioner Semeta responsible for Taxation, said:
"Many policy-makers in the EU – and I am one of them – firmly believe that there is a political and economic case for taxing the financial sector. The jury is still out, however, on the best way to do this.
I have no prejudice on the instrument. I want the best option to serve our purpose, and the one which will best mitigate the main risks identified: relocation of activity, risk of double taxation through uncoordinated tax schemes and excessive administrative or cost burden due to the cumulative impact with regulation. Your debate today will contribute to finding this delicate balance.
However, time is pressing and I want to define the best option to meet our objectives: more revenues, better market efficiency and preservation of the competitiveness of our financial sector."
The European Commission has today proposed a common system for calculating the tax base of businesses operating in the EU. The aim of this proposal is to significantly reduce the administrative burden, compliance costs and legal uncertainties that businesses in the EU currently face in having to comply with up to 27 different national systems for determining their taxable profits.
The proposed Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), would mean that companies would benefit from a "one-stop-shop" system for filing their tax returns and would be able to consolidate all the profits and losses they incur across the EU. Member States would maintain their full sovereign right to set their own corporate tax rate. The Commission estimates that, every year, the CCCTB will save businesses across the EU €700 million in reduced compliance costs and €1.3 billion through consolidation. In addition, businesses looking to expand cross-border will benefit from up to €1 billion in savings. The CCCTB will also make the EU a much more attractive market for foreign investors.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-Fraud and Audit said: "The CCCTB will make it easier, cheaper and more convenient to do business in the EU. It will also open doors for SMEs looking to grow beyond their domestic market. Today's proposal is good for business and good for the EU's global competitiveness."
Statement by Commissioner Šemeta on the European Parliament's vote on innovative financing, including financial transaction tax
I see the European Parliament as an important ally for the Commission in pushing forward our work on financial sector taxation. As outlined in the Communication on the taxation of the financial sector, which I presented last October (IP/10/1298 and MEMO/10/477), I am convinced that this sector must make a fairer contribution to public finances. Mrs Podimata's report on innovative financing also reflects this view.
We need a financial transactions tax at global level to help fund our international challenges, such as climate change and development. Europe must be a leader in pushing for this, and I will discuss how to promote a global financial transactions tax with the G20 Presidency when I am in Paris tomorrow.
With regard to a financial transactions tax at EU-level only, I firmly believe that it is premature to commit to such an option. In fact, taking into account the potential impact that this could have on European competitiveness, it would be irresponsible to proceed with such a tax without first analysing and fully understanding all the implications.
Today, the European Commission adopted a proposal to reform the EU's Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. The aim is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of OLAF, while safeguarding its investigative independence. Since it was set up in 1999, OLAF has carried out around 4500 investigations and has contributed greatly to protecting the EU budget against fraudulent activity. Improvements are nonetheless needed to assist OLAF in performing to its full potential. The Commission is addressing certain key issues by proposing to strengthen OLAF's capacity to tackle fraud with maximum results. Included in today's proposal are measures to ensure that OLAF's investigations are conducted and followed-up more efficiently, to protect the rights of persons under investigation and to reinforce the cooperation between OLAF and its strategic partners in the fight against fraud. The proposal will now be forwarded to the European Parliament and Council for agreement under the co-decision procedure.
Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, responsible for Anti-Fraud, said: “OLAF is a cornerstone in the protection of the EU budget and the fight against fraud. Through this reform procedure, we intend to make it even stronger, more efficient and more capable, to the benefit of each and every European citizen.”
Plans by an international criminal gang to flood the EU market with millions of illegal cigarettes came to an abrupt end last week thanks to a pan-European investigation co-ordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. The operation began when Polish Police raided an illegal cigarette factory near to Warsaw, Poland. During the raid, Polish Police arrested 32 people and seized cigarette making machinery and materials, including over 50 tonnes of cut tobacco. A consignment of nearly 5 million cigarettes, which had already been loaded on a lorry for distribution, was also seized. Shortly after the illegal production facility was raided, over 70 tonnes of tobacco destined for the factory was seized in Lithuania as part of the same operation.