In a policy paper adopted today, the European Commission set out a series of measures enabling prosecutors and judges across the EU to fight fraud against the European Union’s financial interests more effectively. The Commission plans to strengthen substantive criminal law by clarifying definitions of crime such as embezzlement or abuse of power and reinforce the capacities of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and Eurojust (the EU's judicial cooperation body). The EU will also consider how a specialised European Public Prosecutor's Office could apply common rules on fraud and other offenses involving EU funds.
EU Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, responsible for Anti-Fraud, said: “Criminals do not stop at borders. Criminals even take advantage of borders to avoid prosecution. This is not acceptable in the European Union. We have to ensure that the suspected fraud is not only investigated by OLAF and national authorities but also prosecuted. The best investigation cannot protect taxpayers' money if it is not followed up coherently by national prosecutors and courts of the Member States."
Taxation and Customs Union
Commission puts forward the proposal to provide greater customs protection for Intellectual Property Rights
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Customs said:
"Customs are ideally placed at the border, to protect citizens and legitimate businesses and their contribution is highly valuable in fighting counterfeiting and piracy".
He added: "I am convinced that a robust system of intellectual property rights is essential for the whole EU economy. With today's proposal, customs will be able to provide greater protection for IPR and to better tackle the trade in IPR infringing goods."
20 May 2011 Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Šemeta has visited Panemune-Sovetsk border crossing between Lithuania and Russia. At the external border of the EU he got insights in the trade flows and impressions on fighting fraud, smuggling and other illegal activities.
This visit was an opportunity to confirm the strong commitment of the Commission to take active steps to facilitate trade flows with Russia. During his meetings with the people working at the border crossing Commissioner also got valuable insights for finalising an Eastern border action plan to fight smuggling.
Commissioner Algirdas Semeta today participated to the 78th Meeting of the directors general for Customs of the EU Member States and Turkey in Vilnius, Lithuania.
This annual event is a suitable place to take stock of the development of the Customs Union, to draw lessons from the past and to look ahead. While there is a need to ensure smooth trade flows with EU economic partners, to tackle fraud to protect Member States' budget revenues, the resources available are scarce to conduct investments in IT, equipment and training. In such a challenging context, the role Customs play at EU borders, in cooperating with their Eastern neighbours and fighting against fraud, is crucial. Commissioner Semeta calls there for the full and mutual commitment of Member States and participants in that direction.
Full Speech: SPEECH/11/358
First discussions by the Tax Policy Group on cross-border venture capital investments in the EU and on quality of taxation
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-Fraud and Audit, will today chair the third meeting of the re-launched Tax Policy Group (TPG). This Group brings together personal representatives of EU Finance Ministers to discuss key tax policy issues.
Today, the Group will hold a first discussion on cross-border venture capital investments and on the means to ensure that taxation rules do not hinder investment in innovative and fast growing SMEs within the EU. As part of its agenda, the Group will also consider the important role that taxation plays in fiscal consolidation and economic growth in the context of the "Europe 2020" strategy. The objective is to see to what extent tax systems can better support sustainable and inclusive growth.
Environmental taxation for which the Commission proposed to revise the Energy Taxation Directive last April ( IP/11/468 , MEMO/11/238 ) is also part of today's discussions. The Group is expected to exchange views on the issue and in particular on how the EU could make the best possible use of taxation to support sustainable growth.
Following the vote of the European Parliament granting discharge to the European Commission for the 2009 budget, Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, in charge of Audit and Discharge, said:
"I warmly welcome the granting of discharge by the European Parliament to the Commission for the 2009 budget. This is proof that the excellent cooperation we have had with the European Parliament, in particular with the rapporteurs to ensure a common understanding on the issue and the way forward for better financial management of the EU budget, is paying off.
The discussions we had this morning clearly showed the Commission and the Parliament - together with the Council - need to reflect on how the responsibility of the various financial actors can be better defined. The responsibility of EU Member States there is crucial. To this end, the Commission has put forward proposals to revise the EU's Budget Financial Regulation.
In addition, the need to simplify our rules and financial processes is a top priority of our discussions on the Multi-Annual financial Framework post-2013. I am personally convinced that combining simpler rules for managing our EU-funded projects with strong control mechanisms is key for all actors involved, ranging from the beneficiaries to Member States and EU institutions and bodies".