Saturday

15th Dec 2018

Opinion

Time to put focus on tax justice across Europe

  • "Concrete measures need to be implemented in order to put the spotlight on tax justice across Europe" (Photo: André Schneider)

What the recent tax scandals in Luxembourg have shown is that governments are stripping back public services, while at the same time encouraging companies to engage in complex tax schemes.

The promotion of tax evasion has deprived public services of crucial resources at a critical time.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

This public financing has been critical for the banking sector in the past 5 years and is now critical for citizens and workers. Lost revenue means less means of financing public services used by citizens and companies alike, and less redistribution towards a fairer and more sustainable society.

Concrete measures need to be implemented now in order to put the spotlight on tax justice across Europe.

The G20 summit shows that solutions exist; there is just a lack of political will in Europe to put them in place. While Europe is still hesitating on how to approach the sensitive issue of tax rulings, the G20 have underlined the need to fight these “harmful tax practices”.

The devil, as ever, is in the detail. What we need now are details.

Administrative cooperation needs to be amplified, allowing the exchange of information to be more effective. By including the disclosure of beneficial ownership and through country by country reporting to understand where these types of activities take place, these would mark important progressive steps.

More investment in human resources is essential to complement this increased exchange of information. Information and evidence is useless without sufficient resources to process and act upon tax findings.

Tax-labels

Transparency and simplification should be the key words which are directing policymakers in the field.

Starting with more transparency on tax ruling, Europe then needs to push ahead with legislation on a directive on a common tax base with binding harmonisation at the heart of the proposals. A single tax base will ensure profits are taxed once and redistributed amongst countries hosting the company.

Introducing tax labels is another measure worth looking at.

In a similar way to eco-labels, if a company complies with tax obligations it would display a tax label. Whatever the method, a more open and clearer approach would take us out of the vicious circle of tax loopholes.

Concrete measures are essential to enforcing the good will displayed by the G20 and the EU over the past few days. Tax administrations with real control would be better placed to fulfil their duties.

Sanctions such as tax withholding or making funding and loans conditional on tax transparency should be considered. So should an official blacklist of companies who earn above a certain amount of profit and who fail to comply with new practices.

If nothing is done and the political will is not found, citizens in Europe may well lose the common grounds on which societies are based.

The current societal models are a tough ‘sell’. But encouraging tax evasion while increasing taxes on people and workers is a policy society should never have to buy into.

Fair and sustainable tax models which are open, clear and acceptable will not require any sales tactics.

Klaus Heeger is the Secretary General of the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, (CESI)

Juncker 'regrets' Luxembourg tax deals

EU commission chief Juncker has broken his one-week silence on “Luxembourg Leaks”, with jokes, "regrets", and a new proposal on EU tax transparency.

Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Labour MP Diana Johnson has brought a private members bill to Westminster that proposes to decriminalise abortion in the whole of the UK, which means that, if successfully passed, current provisions for Northern Ireland will also be repealed.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact

It's not surprising that a handful of nationalist European governments – Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Italy – have followed Trump's lead in rejecting the UN's migration pact, to be formally adopted in Marrakech next week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us