Today is truly a great day. For greater tax transparency, for our democracy and also for me personally. Because just now (Thursday, 25.02) the Ministers for Economic, Industrial and Research Policy in the EU have made a groundbreaking decision in the fight against tax avoidance of multinational companies. With a clear qualified majority, the Ministers adopted a proposal for public country-by-country reporting, despite a continued blockade by several Member States. This is the breakthrough for fair corporate taxation everywhere in Europe! I have been working on this idea of country-by-country tax transparency for large corporations for almost 20 years and now the blockade in the Council is finally out of the way!
+++ CELEBRATE WITH US! Today, Thursday evening, 8:30pm at the Spontaneous Tax Transparency Online Party: register right here! +++
The Portuguese Presidency’s proposal requires large companies in the EU to publicly report on their profits and taxes paid per country. Country-by-country tax transparency is a minimal transparency requirement for companies with maximum impact for the common good. Once large companies are required to disclose their profits and taxes paid per country of operation, tax evasion will be virtually impossible. This is a strong barrier against tax avoidance. After decades of political controversy, significant progress against tax dodging has finally been achieved. The decision is a major success for greater tax justice.
This success is also particularly a success for all those civil society organizations which have been fighting for more tax transparency for decades. When we founded the Tax Justice Network almost 20 years ago, tax transparency was the core demand of our program. In my little booklet “Drying up Tax Havens!” from 2003, this was one of my central demands as “AttacBasisText 4”. And for more than ten years now, I have been working in the European Parliament towards binding tax transparency for large companies. At the insistence of us Greens, we have already pushed through tax transparency rules for banks; now it is finally the turn of all large corporations. While Amazon’s profits go through the roof untaxed in the pandemic, local retail is dying. Fair taxation is indispensable in a social market economy. Large corporations must share in the funding of Corona’s economic aid and much-needed investments in the future.
At the core of my concerns is the credibility of our democracy. A strong democracy must be able to stand up decisively against tax evasion by big business. After years of delay and blocking, governments have finally agreed on an effective tool in the fight against tax avoidance. This is a breakthrough moment for tax justice and a shining ray of hope for all those who are deeply concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor.
One thing should not be forgotten despite today’s joy: With its decision, the Council falls short of the European Parliament’s position by insisting on a generous secrecy clause and limiting country-by-country tax reporting to European member states and countries on the EU list of tax havens. In the negotiations now pending between the Council and the European Parliament, we will continue to work for tax transparency without loopholes. The European Parliament had already defined its negotiating position on country-by-country tax reporting in 2017, and four years later the Council is now finally clearing the way for the final negotiations in the so-called “trilogue” process. Already at the end of 2019, the Finnish Presidency tried to get an almost identical text through the Council. The Portuguese presidency made the breakthrough because Slovenia and Austria agreed this time.
So there is still a lot of work to be done. But a major milestone has been reached.
And that is a reason to celebrate and you and you can join in the celebration:
Tonight, Thursday evening at 20:30, we’re doing an impromptu online party to celebrate this big success. Be there, bring drinks and a good mood. Sign up right here!
Please, feel free to spread the word about this success on Twitter and Facebook!
With overjoyed European greetings,
Germany’s blockade was outvoted today. Countries that also tried to block by voting no or abstention: Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus.
In favor: Finland, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Austria, Romania, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, France, Bulgaria, Belgium
Back in 2005…
“Tax us if you can” – booklet by the Tax Justice Network https://sven-giegold.de/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/tuiyc_-_eng_-_web_file.pdf
P.S. Petition: Digital Tax Now! – Shops are closing, Amazon & Co are making huge profits without paying their fair share of tax: a digital tax must come now! Together we have the chance to finally overcome the blockade on the digital tax: Please sign our petition and share it with your contacts! https://www.change.org/digitaltax-now