The EU's Council of Economic and Finance Ministers will take place in Brussels on Tuesday 14 May 2013. The European Commission will be represented by Olli Rehn, Vice President and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union and Janusz Lewandowski, Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget.
In the run up to the European Council of 22 May Commissioner Šemeta will urge the Council to reach agreement on a number of concrete legislative measures and actions to fight against tax fraud and evasion in the EU and globally.
Commissioner Šemeta will urge the Council to reach political agreement on the Commission proposal to amend the Savings Directive in order to close its current loopholes, notably by covering a wider range of innovative financial products, pensions and life insurance products and by ensuring a more effective treatment of savings income obtained through trusts and foundations.
Commissioner Šemeta also expects the Council to give the Commission a mandate to start negotiations with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino on the revision of agreements signed with these countries on taxation of savings. The aim of such negotiations is to ensure that these 5 countries apply measures equivalent to those foreseen in the amended Savings Directive and to examine whether other improvements should be made to the agreements, in the light of international developments.
Since 2005, the Savings Directive and related international agreements with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino have ensured that interest on savings income in other EU Member States is either automatically reported to the relevant tax administration or subjected to a withholding tax. The Council will discuss the reinforcement of the current EU legislation, based on the EU's own experience and recent international developments on tax evasion and avoidance.
The Commission expects the Council to adopt conclusions on the Action Plan to fight against tax fraud and evasion and the Recommendations on tax havens and on aggressive tax planning proposed by the Commission on 6 December 2012.
The Commission's Action Plan aims at a more effective EU response to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. It sets out a comprehensive package of over 30 measures, for now and for the future, to help Member States protect their tax bases. Of particular importance are two Recommendations on tax havens and aggressive tax planning which are part of the Action Plan.
The first Recommendation foresees a strong EU stance against tax havens, going beyond the current international measures. Using common criteria, Member States are encouraged to identify tax havens and place them on national blacklists. Measures to persuade these non-EU countries to apply EU transparency standards are also set out.
The second Recommendation is on aggressive tax planning. It suggests ways to address legal technicalities and loopholes which some companies exploit to avoid paying their fair share of tax.
Other initiatives foreseen in the Action Plan include a Taxpayers' Code, an EU Tax Identification Number, a review of the anti-abuse provisions in key EU Directives, and common guidelines to trace money flows.
The Council is due to agree on the Commission's proposal to set up of a Fiscalis 2020 Programme. Fiscalis 2020 will significantly contribute to improve cooperation between tax authorities within the EU. The proposed programme would in particular support initiatives and cooperation to fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning through networking, joint actions and training amongst national tax administrations. The programme would also fund the operation and development of European information systems for taxation. These systems allow Member States to exchange information which is crucial in the fight against tax fraud.
European Commission, MEMO/13/421, 11 May 2013