In a hearing of the Coordinators of European Parliament’s Special Committee against tax avoidance, the European competition oversight conceded that it is not able to consequently prosecute tax dumping due to a lack of staff. The Commission will concentrate on exemplary cases of only a few big companies. Hundreds or thousands of companies which saved billions in taxes thanks to sweetheart tax rulings get off scot-free. An executive Commission official of the Directorates-General Competition confessed this to the Coordinators of the Special Committee against tax avoidance on Monday evening.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented on the confession of the EU Commission:
“It is a scandalous evidence of incapacity that just for a lack of personnel the Commission wants to prosecute only a few cases of tax dumping. This is a blatant violation of equality before the law. Hundreds of companies can fool the revenue authorities in the EU Member States with impunity. It is a slap in the face of European taxpayers who are paying the bill for a lack of political will. The unequal treatment that only a few companies will be required to pay back the aid unlawfully granted is not acceptable. The EU Commission has to ensure equality before the law. This is the litmus test for Commissioner Vestager and EU Commission’s President Juncker.
The decision of Competition Commissioner Margarete Vestager on Fiat, Starbucks and Amazon showed that the European competition law is an effective instrument in the fight against tax dumping. The Commission must not leave it at condemning a few companies. It has to demand the handover of comparable tax rulings from Member States which have granted companies illegal advantages. These rulings have to be examined systematically and illegally granted state aid has to be recovered. This is daily common practice in the international information exchange of tax data of natural persons between Member States. The EU Commission must not fall behind this good practice .
It is up to the Commission to hire immediately more staff in the policing of fiscal state aid. It is well known that every revenue officer recovers a multiple of his or her salary through collecting taxes. This is more than ever true for the Directorate-General Competition.”
As far as the access to crucial documents for the European Parliament’s Special Committee on tax avoidance is concerned, the situation remains difficult. Together with Fabio De Masi (GUE/NGL) we Greens wrote a letter reminding transparency and access to documents point by point. The letter can be found here: http://gruenlink.de/143m