Verdicts on Starbucks (NL) and Fiat Finance (LUX) tax rulings show need for transparency and strong role for Commission, say key Tax Rulings Committee MEPs
Following this morning's announcements of the verdicts of Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on the Dutch tax deal with Starbucks and the Luxembourgish tax agreement with Fiat Finance and Trade, key MEPs on taxation issues gave the following statements.
Chairman of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT)
"I welcome the Commission decisions announced today on two state aid cases concerning Starbucks (Netherlands) and Fiat (Luxembourg) as an important step forward to tackling aggressive tax planning practices by multinational corporations in Europe, and to reinstalling the principle of tax fairness and tax transparency. It is important to show that the Competition rules are respected and the Commission of course is only doing its job as guardian of the Treaty. However, problems cannot be tackled only by addressing individual cases, which is lengthy and costly for all. A general policy overhaul in the area of taxation is needed. A first legislative step on exchanging tax rulings information has been taken but, as the Parliament said last week (rapporteur: M. Ferber), more needs to be done. The European Parliament will put forward soon proposals a set of legislative recommendations (rapporteurs: L. Niedermayer and A. Dodds), based on the findings of the current TAXE Special Committee."
Rapporteur of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee for the Council Directive on automatic exchange of tax rulings, Markus Ferber (EPP, DE)
"I welcome that the Commission finally addresses the issue of tax deals to the detriment of other jurisdictions. However, to make such unfair tax deals truly unattractive, the Member States who granted them also need to be punished. Apart from that, the state-aid cases being discussed right now show once more how important it is that the Commission has access to the relevant pieces of information. Next week the European Parliament will vote on a report on the automatic exchange of information for tax rulings. Our clear recommendation will be that the Commission should be able to get this kind of information for state-aid procedures, but there is a high risk that Member States will not follow our line and try to keep the Commission out of the game. Today's decisions prove that this would be a missed chance for fair competition in the field of taxation."
See also last week's reaction of rapporteur Markus Ferber to the ECOFIN agreement on automatic exchange of tax rulings: Mandatory exchange of tax rulings proposal: a "missed opportunity”.
Co-rapporteur for Parliament's Special Committee on Tax Rulings, Michael Theurer (ALDE, DE):
"Commissioner Vestager's landmark decision proofs the well-functioning of the Commission. She has not only issued a verdict against Starbucks and Fiat, but also against member states and protagonists such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg and the latter's former PM Jean-Claude Juncker. The Commission is the highest supervisory authority in competition and state aid matters and should therefore become the institution that acts as a fully-fledged central registry, receiving all information necessary to ensure full transparency and the uphold of EU law. We want fair tax competition in Europe, and there is no reason why your local corner coffee bar should pay normal taxes, and big MNCs such as Starbucks should not."
Co-rapporteur for Parliament's Special Committee on Tax Rulings, Elisa Ferreira (S&D, PT):
"These two cases have proven that tax competition among States to attract companies and profits is the norm in the EU as the TAXE Special Committee has confirmed in its draft report. We can only congratulate the EC for having fulfilled its engagement to investigate these tax rulings in order to make the tax systems in Europe fair, transparent and acceptable for citizens. These investigations mark a qualitative change in the EU by making clear that the king is naked and that in the tax matters, Europe is more a jungle than an area of cooperation.
We ask the Commission to go much further. We also ask the Member States to progress in a serious and transparent way on the exchange of information on their tax rulings. Member States must abandon their comfort zone of the unanimity rule in the EU decisions which is maintaining the huge tax injustice imposed on citizens and a race to the bottom, in which the multinationals will end up paying no taxes in Europe with all the responsibility for the national budget lying on the usual victims, citizens and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises."
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