Important dossiers concerning European tax policy – from digital tax to Common Consolidated Corporate Tax – cannot be finalised, because the Council of the European Union requires unanimity in tax issues. However, the European Commission has presented a proposal on 15th January 2019 to make qualified majority decisions in Council in regards to tax matters possible from now on.
Following the negotiations in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) on 3rd December 2018, which ended with a slimmed down version of the digital tax, the reports on the “significant digital presence” of a company and on the digital tax were put to the vote in the European Parliament. In doing so, an important first step has been taken towards taxing digital giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Over the past five years, time and again new scandals on tax or financial crimes came to light, most recently the so-called “Cum-Cum”, “Cum-Ex”, and “Cum-Fake” deals, the European Parliament set up the Special Committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance on 1st March 2018. On 27th November 2018, the Committee presented its draft final report.
The President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi provides the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs with a current outlook on economic policy for the Union and demands a greater expansion of the Economic and Monetary Union.
This week, the Commission published the Autumn Package within the scope of the current European Semester. It comprises several reports and analyses, above all the Annual Growth Report 2019.
The European Commission has presented its economic forecast for the Eurozone within the framework of the European Semester. Thanks to increased domestic demand, Austria is developing well, whilst Italy might slide into deficit procedures.
The proposal of the European Commission for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 – 2027 also includes a Single Market Programme. Based on this Programme, the Commission wants to achieve simplifications and synergy effects in a wide range of sectors of the single market. The Chamber of Labour has analysed the targets and financial allocation of the proposal in great detail and shows in its Position Paper both problem fields and solution proposals.
In his State of the Union Address 2018, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put special emphasis on money laundering and financial crime. The Commission plans to increase the role of the European Banking Authority (EBA) to make it easier to tackle money laundering. The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) welcomed this step and pledged its support on 2 October. This week, the Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3) too debated in Strasbourg the relationship with Switzerland in matters of money laundering.
The taxation of digital companies such as Google or Facebook is creating a big stir throughout Europe. Whilst longstanding analogue industries pay up to 23.5 % tax, at just under 9.5 % on average, digital companies are taxed at a significantly much lower rate. On 8th September 2018, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council ECOFIN, which is made up of Europe’s Finance Ministers, met in Vienna to debate the future of digital taxation. Similar to the EU Commission, Austria is also interested in a quick solution and would like to have reached agreement on the digital tax by early 2019.
The European Commission aims to achieve streamlining and synergy effects through a new Single Market Programme covering the competitiveness of enterprises, consumer protection, financial services, the food chain, European standards and statistics. BAK has doubts, however, as to how those objectives can be achieved given the wideranging topics concerned.