Sven Giegold

Combating tax avoidance and money laundering has to remain a top priority for the new EU Commission

Yesterday, the new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the areas of work of the nominated Commissioners and the priorities for the five-year mandate of the European Commission. The fight against tax avoidance, tax evasion and money laundering remains a priority for the von der Leyen Commission. President von der Leyen has divided the various tasks between four Commissioners. Frans Timmermans, responsible for the Green New Deal, will work with Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, to introduce a tax on greenhouse gases and a „Carbon Border Tax“. Margrethe Vestager, who will remain Commissioner for Competition and who will also be responsible for digitalization, will join Gentiloni in introducing the digital tax currently negotiated at OECD level within the EU. Financial Market Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis will in future push forward the fight against money laundering in the EU and would thus take over this task from former Justice Commissioner Jourova.

MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:

„The fight against tax dumping and money laundering has to remain a top priority for the EU Commission. It is a success for us Greens that Ursula von der Leyen takes over our demand and instructs Paolo Gentiloni to make full use of all the possibilities for using the majority procedure in the area of European tax legislation provided for in the EU Treaty. We no longer accept that the requirement for unanimity on tax matters allows European tax havens such as Ireland, Malta or Luxembourg to block progress in the fight against tax avoidance. It is therefore incomprehensible why Paolo Gentiloni’s mission letter does not include the currently blocked public country-by-country reporting which is to be adopted by majority vote. In the hearing in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament, we Greens will call on Gentiloni to make a clear commitment to public tax transparency for large corporations. This important proposal by the Juncker Commission against tax dumping must not be allowed to die. Equally Commissioner Vestager lacks a clear mission to continue clawing back illegal fiscal state aid.

It is good news that Ursula von der Leyen explicitly wants to move ahead with the work on a common consolidated corporate tax base. In addition, however, the EU Commission must also propose a European minimum corporation tax rate in order to put an end to the race to the bottom among Member States. As soon as the new EU Commission has been elected, it must present a new action plan for combating tax avoidance and tax evasion.

The same applies to money laundering, where Valdis Dombrovskis has to draw consequences from the money laundering scandals of European banks. The Member States have implemented the European Anti-money laundering Directive inconsistently. That is why we need a European Regulation that provides clarity. In the future, the EU Commission must pursue maladministration and non-functioning of the national FIUs with the highest priority through infringement proceedings. In order to improve cooperation between the authorities, the European Commission should propose an EU FIU, as requested by Parliament and the ECB. The European single market requires an EU authority against money laundering with its own investigative powers in the financial and non-financial sectors of business. Europe urgently needs rules for crypto currencies so that this place can no longer be misused for criminal payments.”

Mission letters from Ursula von der Leyen to the proposed Commissioners:

Frans Timmermans:

Margrethe Vestager:

Valdis Dombrovskis:

Paolo Gentiloni:

Overview of the distribution of tasks related to tax and money laundering:

Frans Timmermans – Executive Vice-President-designate for the European Green Deal:

• To ensure that EU tax policies enable us to deliver on our climate ambitions. This will include the work on the Carbon Border Tax, as well as the review of the Energy Taxation Directive.

Margrethe Vestager – Executive Vice-President-designate for a Europe fit for the Digital Age:

• To coordinate the work on digital taxation to find a consensus at international level by the end of 2020 or to propose a fair European tax.

• To evaluate and review Europe’s competition rules. This will cover the antitrust regulations that will expire in the course of the mandate, the ongoing evaluation of merger control and the review of State aid rules and guidance.

Valdis Dombrovskis – Executive Vice-President-designate for An Economy that Works for People:

• To put forward a new, comprehensive approach to fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. Focus on better enforcement of legislation, better supervision, adapting to risks linked to new technologies and a stronger role in setting international standards.

• To ensure a common approach with Member States on cryptocurrencies to ensure we understand how to make the most of the opportunities they create and address the new risks they may pose.

Paolo Gentiloni – Commissioner-designate for Economy:

• To lead international efforts to find an agreed approach on digital taxation, working with our partners in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G20. If no consensus emerges by the end of 2020, you should lead on the proposal for a fair European digital tax.

• Taxation to play a central role in the European Green Deal. To lead the work on the review of the Energy Taxation Directive to align it with our ambitions and bring an end to fossil-fuel subsidies.

• To lead on the proposal of a Carbon Border Tax, working closely with the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. This is a key tool to avoid carbon leakage and ensure that EU companies can compete on a level playing field. The Carbon Border Tax should be fully compliant with WTO rules.

• To focus on making our tax systems simpler, clearer and easier to use. To lead efforts on making a common consolidated corporate tax base a reality.

• Step up the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance. To work towards a fraud-proof VAT regime and look at how cooperation between national authorities can be improved.

• To develop stronger measures to combat harmful tax regimes around the world, including by making full use of the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

• To make full use of the clauses in the Treaties that allow proposals on taxation to be adopted by co-decision and qualified majority voting.

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