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Procedure : 2012/2599(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0203/2012

Texts tabled :

B7-0203/2012

Debates :

PV 18/04/2012 - 14
CRE 18/04/2012 - 14

Votes :

PV 19/04/2012 - 6.8
CRE 19/04/2012 - 6.8
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0137

Debates
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

14. Call for concrete ways to combat tax fraud and tax evasion (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the statements by the Council and the Commission: Call for concrete ways to combat tax fraud and tax evasion [2012/2599(RSP)].

 
  
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  Nicolai Wammen, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, on behalf of the Danish Presidency, I would like to thank Parliament for the importance it attaches to the subject of the fight against fraud and evasion. The Council shares the view that this issue is a vital part of tax policy and that tax cooperation is a priority for the Presidency. This is even more the case in the context of the current economic climate and the need for all the Member States to ensure ambitious, fiscal consolidation.

The Council has undertaken a variety of initiatives to address this problem in recent years. In 2006 and 2007, the Council adopted conclusions aimed at establishing an anti-fraud strategy at Community level, in particular, in the area of VAT fraud. Since then, the Council has adopted a number of acts such as the strengthening of the regulation on administrative cooperation between Member States in the field of VAT as well as a number of modifications to the VAT Directive which are aimed at tackling fraud. This includes the speeding up of information exchange between Member States, the establishment of conditions for VAT exemptions on imports and agreements on invoicing rules.

In the area of direct taxation, as recently as February 2011, the Council adopted the directive on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation, which is aimed at strengthening the instruments of mutual assistance in the assessment of direct taxes between Member States. The directive provides, among other things, for increased possibilities for exchanging information and requests and introduces provisions on the automatic exchange of information.

Furthermore, in 2003, the Council adopted the directive on the taxation of saving income in the form of interest payments. Finally, in March 2010, the Council adopted the directive concerning mutual assistance for the recovery of claims relating to taxes, duties and other measures, which is a major upgrade of the existing mutual assistance instruments to collect taxes.

I believe that these various initiatives demonstrate the Council’s commitment to tackling tax fraud and evasion. That said, it is clear that more can and should be done. At its last meeting in March, the European Council underlined the importance of fiscal consolidation and growth. In that context, it called on the Council and the Commission to rapidly develop concrete ways to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion and to report back in June this year.

The Danish Presidency attaches great importance to this issue. The work is currently under way, and we fully expect to respect the deadline and report back to the European Council in June. Obviously, at this stage I cannot provide you with full details of what we expect to have in that report, but I can give you an idea of the work which is ongoing in Council.

Firstly, the Danish Presidency is pressing ahead with the Savings Taxation Directive. This file is due to be discussed by Ecofin Ministers in May or June, hopefully on 15 May. At that meeting, the Danish Presidency will propose that a mandate be adopted to allow the Commission to open negotiations with Switzerland and other non-EU Western European countries on a new generation of savings taxation agreements. The savings agreements with third countries can then be revised in parallel with the proposed amendments to the EU Savings Directive. The overall objective is to ensure more effective taxation of cross-border savings, and the Danish Presidency hopes that we will be able to make real progress on this difficult file, a file which is important for combating tax fraud and tax evasion.

Secondly, on the issue of excess duties, the new Administrative Collaboration Directive is due to be adopted at the next Ecofin Council meeting. This constitutes a major upgrade of the tools available to Member States to fight fraud and evasion in the area. Thirdly, as regards VAT, the Council will take a close look at the Commission’s communication on the future of VAT, which proposes new ways for dealing with VAT fraud. Detailed Council conclusions on this issue are expected by the end of the Danish Presidency.

In addition to initiatives in the legislative field, the Council is continuing work on the coordination of tax policies. The Council’s Code of Conduct group, which coordinates the efforts of Member States in the fight against harmful tax competition in the area of business taxation, is embarking on a new line of work aimed at promoting the principles of the code to third countries.

Dear colleagues, we will be working closely with you and the Commission to ensure that this will be a successful battle against tax fraud and evasion.

 
  
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  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, Minister, honourable Members, in these difficult times, we must ensure that taxes are efficiently and fairly collected. We cannot ask citizens to accept the burden of increased taxes and cuts in public services if we do not do our utmost to clamp down on activities and practices that rob Member States of legitimate income. I am particularly pleased that the European Council has called for an improvement in this field.

As stated in the AGS last December, the Commission has already been working on a strategy to enhance the fight against tax fraud and evasion. The request of the Heads of State or Government and your debate today will give further momentum to this work. In this context, I look forward to hearing your views and concerns today.

In order to better frame a European-wide strategy, I believe that we need to take a three-pronged approach.

Firstly, Member States need to make the best use of the tools available at EU level. For example, Eurofisc can provide a real return on investment to fight VAT fraud through the quick exchange of targeted information and the opportunity for joint risk analysis. The Commission will continue to support Eurofisc and the practical activities under the Fiscalis spending programme. In direct taxation, Member States have to use fully the provisions of the Mutual Assistance Directive and the mechanisms of the Savings Directive.

This brings me to my second point: progress in the Council on pending proposals that impact on the fight against tax fraud and evasion is too slow. Finance Ministers have to find a way out of the impasse on the revision of the Savings Directive that we have been in for too long, the more so since there have been important international developments over the last three years. The exchange of information has become a global standard undermining bank secrecy. It is now time for the European Union to take its own mechanisms a step forward. The first step has to be for the Council to mandate the Commission to negotiate with our partners in neighbouring jurisdictions, particularly Switzerland.

Thirdly, we need to look forward by developing new ideas. What can be done? For example, develop a joined-up approach to controls and investigations not only across borders between tax administrations, but also between different agencies such as those dealing with customs and tax. New ideas should also be developed, such as quick reaction mechanisms for allowing Member States to take rapid action against new types of carousel VAT fraud.

As already announced in the Commission’s work programme for 2012, I also intend to go further in fighting against tax havens and aggressive tax planning. We need to leverage the economic and political muscle of the Union to ensure that we defend ourselves against non-cooperative jurisdictions and others that do not play fair. In parallel, based on the results of the ongoing double non-taxation public consultation, I will be continuing to push for effective means to end situations of aggressive tax planning which undermine fair tax collection.

Before concluding, let me point out that we are aware that improvements are needed not only on tax legislation. As Commissioner in charge of anti-fraud, I tabled last June the Commission anti-fraud strategy which tackles large-scale smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol at the EU Eastern border. It increases transparency in entities benefiting from EU funds: those which have not fulfilled their tax obligations would be refused any EU subsidies.

My fellow Commissioner, Michel Barnier, is also very active in promoting transparency in company accounts, with recent proposals on country-by-country reporting and interconnection of companies registers.

In conclusion, I believe that we must continue acting strongly against tax fraud and evasion and I look forward to a vibrant and constructive debate with you.

Thank you.

 
  
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  Pablo Zalba Bidegain, on behalf of the PPE Group.(ES) Mr President, Mr Šemeta, the last European Council meeting focused on the need to improve the taxation system in order to improve tax collection efficiency and put a stop to tax evasion and tax fraud. Spain will introduce a law on this matter.

The ideas that have been put forward by the Council and given expression in this resolution are priorities of Spain’s economic policy and, I am certain, that of the rest of Europe as well.

They will enable us to bring about legal certainty, reduce the informal economy and lower the number of people who are not fulfilling their tax obligations; this will be sure to create a fairer Europe.

Furthermore, we should bear in mind the recommendations made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the principle of trying to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the comparative disadvantage between those who have fulfilled their taxation obligations and those who do not fulfil them.

The resolution we shall vote on in plenary and the Spanish plan to prevent and combat tax fraud therefore seek to fight against the informal economy, promote transparency and European coordination, boost tax collection – enabling the deficit to be reduced, which is so badly needed at the moment – and not damage opportunities for growth but, on the contrary, create a fairer and more efficient system that reflects those opportunities.

Those decisions will have a very positive impact on the public accounts and, I insist, will make a significant contribution to reducing the deficit and, therefore, to restoring growth.

Finally, while we are talking about growth, I want to take this opportunity to stress that, in order to achieve the growth we so badly want, we should continue to pledge our commitment to internationalising our economy and our businesses, as the Council has stated many times. To achieve that, however, we need to guarantee the legal certainty of our investments, but I do not want to speak ahead of the debate we shall have later.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  María Muñiz De Urquiza (S&D), Blue-card question.(ES) Mr President, Mr Zalba, you have made several mentions of the Spanish Government’s plans with regard to tax evasion. I presume you are thinking of the Spanish Government’s plans in the area of tax amnesty for tax evaders. Could you explain to Parliament what tax amnesty consists of and how those who have evaded taxes will be regularised, to the detriment of those who pay their taxes properly?

 
  
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  Pablo Zalba Bidegain (PPE), Blue-card answer.(ES) Mr President, firstly, Ms Muñiz, the Spanish Government has not passed any tax amnesty laws because, as you are aware, that concept is not included in the Spanish constitution. It is true that the Spanish Government has proposed regularisation, as other countries such as Belgium and Germany have done, as well as other Spanish governments of your own political affiliation – that is, the Socialist Party, a few years ago.

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira, on behalf of the S&D Group.(PT) Mr President, budgetary consolidation is making almost unbearable demands of the European public. Every day, meanwhile, there are fewer to bear an increasing burden. The tax burden falls on workers, on small and medium-sized enterprises, and on consumers, while tax flight and tax evasion on a vast scale are taking place.

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament wanted to know how much money was being lost to the 27 Member States from this tax flight and tax evasion, and the answer was EUR 1 trillion. That is more than all the EU Member States put together spend on health care. It is so much that if we invested just one fifth of it, investment in Europe would increase from 2.7% of GDP to 3.5%. We are, therefore, talking about an exceptionally large sum and the purpose of the resolution we are going to adopt – at Parliament’s initiative – is a very clear demand that the Commission and the Council speed up concrete action to combat tax evasion and fraud.

This means, in particular, concrete initiatives for tax cooperation within the European Union, and for cooperation with our neighbouring countries – particularly Switzerland – negotiated by the Commission and not bilaterally by individual countries. This means reforming and harmonising accounting rules, and increasing transparency and reporting. This clearly means resurrecting the key issue of combating tax fraud and evasion through tax havens. Europe is not a minority partner. Europe is a major international player. Europe is obliged to advocate clearly the joint combating of tax fraud and evasion in the G20. If not, we will lose credibility with the public. Therefore, my final words in this debate are to encourage the Commission and the Council to start effectively combating tax fraud and evasion.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(ES) Mr President, my reason for speaking is to express my agreement with this resolution and the measures it proposes. Combating fraud and tax evasion is a matter of institutional efficiency and social justice. Firstly, because it deters tax evaders and encourages those who fulfil their tax obligations; secondly, because it improves the state of public accounts; finally, because it strengthens the values of solidarity and social justice on which our coexistence is based.

I also believe that in order to combat fraud, we need to have tax harmonisation, to coordinate all the European treasuries with institutional, regulatory and economic autonomy, and to exchange data between all of them. I would urge that in carrying this out, everyone should be treated equally, because my region, which is fiscally autonomous, has been sanctioned for applying tax regulations that are identical to those used by other Member States that have not received any reproaches from Europe.

I would like to draw your attention to the need to have better control of the informal economy and to eradicate this practice, which is just another systematic, horizontal way of avoiding taxes, cheating the tax office and promoting unfair competition. I regret that this resolution does not include any denouncement of this situation or concrete measures to improve it.

Finally, I urge everyone to share best practices in order to promote the aforementioned values among our citizens, and I am committed to seeing Europe as a whole quickly take a stand against corruption, another curse that takes away from the legitimacy and prestige of our public management.

 
  
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  Sven Giegold, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in view of the current situation as regards public finances and the economy in Europe, this is no time for fairy tales when it comes to tax policy. The situation in Council is quite simply that little progress is being made on tax policy proposals. Why is that? It is because some countries are opposed to further tax cooperation. They profit from aggressive tax planning; they are tax havens themselves.

The Treaties clearly state that there must be unanimity on tax matters. That is why the Commission’s proposals have been shipwrecked on various occasions in the past. They are watered down, or no progress is made – as in the case of the directive on interest. Recent proposals have already been resigned to this and do not even suggest anything demanding any more. I would therefore ask you, Mr Šemeta – and I know your job is not an easy one where this is concerned – to change strategy, to present strict measures and go for enhanced cooperation in order to end the blockade in Council.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: JACEK PROTASIEWICZ
Vice-President

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas, on behalf of the EFD Group.(LT) Mr President, Commissioner, in the context of the economic downturn in Europe, tax collecting and related policies become particularly important. Fiscal policy must be simple, clear and comprehensible to all taxpayers. Taxes must be effective and fair. At the same time, tax evasion and fraud are a key factor threatening the revenue of all countries and costing billions. Only an effective and targeted fight against tax fraud and evasion is therefore the main way of obtaining the resources necessary to increase public investment in Europe’s international competitiveness and opportunities for growth. An environment needs to be created where evading taxes does not bring any benefits and is not worth doing. The Council and the Commission must therefore take the most decisive measures to address this issue. A concerted effort to combat tax fraud and evasion will make it possible to ensure that Member State tax bases function effectively and to increase revenue without increasing the tax burden.

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (NL) Mr President, did you know that Ikea is a Dutch company, just like Eni, a company of Italian origin, Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, as the Greek soft drinks bottler is called, and Jerónimo Martins, the largest Portuguese supermarket.

Obviously, these companies are not really Dutch. These are ingenious set-ups with an administrative office in the Netherlands and real activities elsewhere. These companies are doing this, through secret agreements with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, in order to pay as little tax as possible. Often, they use the network of tax treaties set up by the Netherlands through which they are able to channel their profits to tax havens following minimal tax payments in the Netherlands.

It is shocking to see that such multinationals are evading tax while, everywhere in Europe, people are having to tighten their belts as a result of the austerity fury. This means that the heaviest shoulders are carrying the lightest burdens. This problem cannot be resolved nationally; the European Union has to take action.

In the resolution, we ask, amongst other things, for transparency. The annual accounts of multinationals should be much clearer and more specific, that is, they should provide insight into sales and profits for each country. Tax treaties, both between Member States and with third countries, should be examined and coordinated, so that they cannot be misused for tax evasion.

In addition, we need to move towards a European minimum rate for corporation tax. I hope that the Commission will pick up this broadly supported resolution and hurry up with the preparation of proposals.

 
  
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  Anni Podimata (S&D).(EL) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Commissioner, we took the initiative to hold this debate precisely because we believe that combating tax evasion and tax avoidance are, and must be, an integral part of national and European strategies to get out of the crisis. That is because tax evasion and tax avoidance make cost-sharing socially unfair and undermine fiscal targets for economic and social reasons.

It is irrational for us to take action solely in order to deepen fiscal policy, without at the same time taking action to converge and coordinate fiscal policy; otherwise, fiscal competition between us will increase and the fiscal problems of countries in difficulty will worsen. It is not just a question of fiscal competition between us; it is also the capital flight abroad to Switzerland and to other Member States of the European Union that have retained the banking veil.

Obviously, each country is responsible for tax evasion; the same applies to the fiscal crisis. However, that does not prevent the Council and the Commission from adopting more stringent rules and policies to combat the problem.

 
  
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  Udo Bullmann (S&D).(DE) Mr President, the Council Presidency has told us that on 15 May, it will work towards a European mandate allowing the Commission to negotiate. I think that is a good thing. Rightly so. We will then be able to see how far the European Commission gets in its negotiations with Switzerland and others. It is also right, however, when honourable Members say that we should go for enhanced cooperation in areas where they can help us further.

Yet you should ask sometime – you do, after all, have an audience for what you are doing – you should ask the German Government and the French Government why they have not been doing that for a long time already. Why is it that in their home countries, they always come out with fine words, but never actually take the initiative. That would be something. Please would you also publicly answer the question as to why the US is apparently far more successful in its bilateral efforts and is able to exert pressure far more successfully – on Switzerland, for example – than the German Government, rather than simply saying that what they are doing is fine. In the interests of our citizens, ask what the US is doing differently to European countries, so that we can make some practical progress at last.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, tax evasion results in substantial economic losses and affects the functioning of State institutions, thereby jeopardising national security. Romania has revenues of just 33% of GDP, which is below the European average of 40%. The government in my country has made it one of its priorities to combat this problem, setting up, with this purpose in mind, an interministerial committee for combating tax evasion. It is well known that the Netherlands is against my country joining the Schengen area, giving corruption and fraud as reasons for this. By an ironic paradox, a consignment of 40 million smuggled cigarettes with a value of EUR 15 million spent four days in the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, a Schengen Member State, without being discovered. This could not have happened in the port of Constanţa in Romania. The credit for this impressive haul, which was made last week, goes to the Irish authorities, whom I would like to congratulate.

 
  
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  Nikos Chrysogelos (Verts/ALE).(EL) Mr President, I should like to point out and to ask the Commission this: as we all know, Greece has serious fiscal problems; on the other hand, however, we all know that the Swiss banks are holding …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  President. – Mr Chrysogelos, I am sorry but this is not a blue-card question. With the blue-card procedure, you can only put the question to another MEP who has just spoken. I am sorry about that.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D).(PL) Mr President, I cannot stress too strongly that in connection with the crisis in Europe, many Member States have recently increased taxation. This is the wrong approach, it is one which slows development even more and further restricts the creation of new jobs. Much better effects would be achieved by improving tax collection rates and being more effective in the fight against tax fraud. There would certainly then be less economic and financial damage, and there would be a chance that the principle of fair competition would be respected. I must admit that the statements which were made here at the beginning of this debate today trouble me. I do not think we are determined enough in the fight against tax fraudsters, and in the current exceptional situation of Europe’s economy and finances, I think we need to be showing much more determination here.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE).(HU) Mr President, the issue raised is extremely topical, as there is an extraordinarily great need for both the prevention of tax evasion and the income thus generated. The crisis has confirmed this to us, as it has also confirmed that it is not enough to impose requirements; we must also continuously evaluate and monitor compliance with them. If we fail to do so, then we will lose not only revenue but also European citizens’ and enterprises’ trust and their faith in the future. In addition to today’s debate, the initiative to review dubious bilateral agreements and extend the scope of the Savings Tax Directive is especially welcome. Moreover, I find it important that tax evasion via hybrid financial instruments has also been mentioned. I, too, will give high priority to this matter, also in my capacity as the MEP responsible for the dossier on royalties and interest payments.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI).(DE) Mr President, combating tax evasion and tax fraud is of great importance if you bear in mind that tax fraud accounts for EUR 1 trillion in the budgets of EU Member States. That is money that could and must be invested in the public sector, in growth and employment, allowing us to actively take one more step out of the crisis. We need greater transparency by the Member States and, above all, enhanced cooperation, taking into account Article 65 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE).(EL) Mr President, tax evasion and corruption cost Europe 1% of GDP, or approximately EUR 120 billion. Also, according to a recent study, two-thirds of the Member States of Europe failed to score over five out of ten in a recent corruption assessment. I mention this in order to point out, on the question of tax evasion, that this problem does not concern specific Member States only, as certain Members often state; it is a European problem and should be addressed as such.

In addition to what my colleagues have said, I should like to add another parameter. The European funds spend a great deal of money on e-governance. Of that, approximately 1 billion is earmarked for Greece up to 2013 for e-governance and for reforms of the public administration. These funds will be put to targeted use in order to combat tax evasion.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, Minister, honourable Members, this has been a most timely and constructive debate. I have listened attentively to the many views expressed and I am encouraged in my determination to push for further action against tax fraud and tax evasion by your clearly articulated concerns.

The Heads of State or Government have clearly indicated the importance they attach to concrete action in this area. The challenge is to translate this political wish into real action on the ground.

Effective tax systems require many things, such as good design, effective controls and strong administrations. These are elements that Member States need to reflect on, over and above the traditional Union concerns about cross-border issues on tax. I believe that we now have the opportunity, with the European Semester process this year, to put these issues clearly at the centre of the economic governance agenda, and I will be advocating this strongly in the coming months.

I have two important priorities. Firstly, I wish to ensure that the Commission’s report to the European Council in June provides a sound and realistic basis for further work. It is important to mobilise finance ministers to tackle the important issues concerning tax fraud and evasion. Secondly, I will, over the coming months, be developing my ideas for the initiative I am planning on tax havens and aggressive tax planning.

You have provided me today with an extensive list of concerns and ideas. Many of you referred to the issue of agreement with Switzerland, and I am looking forward to the efforts of the Danish Presidency to finalise this point and pave the way for the Commission to negotiate with Switzerland and to give our Member States the possibility to collect the money that they deserve.

Many of you spoke about issues of aggressive tax planning. This is also on the Commission’s agenda for this year, and we will put forward concrete initiatives on how to tackle this problem. On sharing good practices, I have to say that we have a specific structure for this: a tax policy group that was established by the Commission. In this forum, we invite Member States to share their good practices, in order to be able to use these practices in other Member States.

Mr Bullmann raised the issue of the United States’ ability to fight against tax fraud. I would not agree that we are worse than the United States. Actually, we are working in very close cooperation with the United States in promoting standards of exchange of information around the globe, and I hope that this cooperation will provide good results, not only in our relationship with Switzerland, but also with other third countries.

I will also be engaging with stakeholders on this issue and building on the current public consultation on cases of double non-taxation. The support of Parliament is essential if we are to progress, both in providing political leadership and in supporting appropriate Commission legislative initiatives.

To conclude, Mr President, honourable Members, Minister, I am pleased to have been able to contribute to today’s debate. I have appreciated your insights and I look forward to further opportunities to debate this important issue.

 
  
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  Nicolai Wammen, President-in-Office of the Council.(DA) Mr President, Commissioner, honourable Members, I would like to thank you for a very interesting debate, which I think clearly demonstrates that combating tax fraud and tax evasion is an issue that the Council, Parliament and the Commission all consider to be extremely important. I also think that the large number of contributions today has emphasised the importance that is justifiably given to this subject.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Šemeta for his account of the Commission’s contribution in this area, and I would like to return the compliment in relation to his remarks concerning the Danish Presidency. We also attach a great deal of importance to our cooperation with the Commissioner and the Commission.

As I started my first speech by saying, a wide range of issues is currently being discussed in the Council, and I hope and expect that we will see some results in the very near future. The question of Switzerland was raised, and the Danish Presidency is pressing for a mandate to be granted soon for negotiations aimed at getting an agreement in place with Switzerland.

The Presidency will work, in cooperation with the Member States, the Commission and this Parliament, to promote these processes, and we will do our best to make progress on the many issues concerned. For example, we are hoping to see progress in the area of interest taxation – a subject that has been debated for many years and in connection with which considerable progress needs to be made. We will also do our best to comply with the request of the European Council to provide it with a report on the progress made before the end of our Presidency.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank this Parliament for placing such an important issue on the agenda. The Danish Presidency will do its utmost, together with Parliament and the Commission, to ensure that the fight against tax evasion and tax fraud is placed high on the European agenda, and that results are achieved so that everyone makes the contribution required of them to our common prosperity and our common Europe.

 
  
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  President. – I have received one motion for a resolution(1) tabled in accordance with Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Friday at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Zuzana Brzobohatá (S&D), in writing. (CS) The fight against the financial and economic crisis is currently being conducted mainly through austerity measures. Under the banner of greater competitiveness, these austerity measures are ultimately leading to the gradual degradation of the European social model. We now need a different policy, a policy aimed at supporting growth. Resources should be sought in national budgets mainly on the revenue side. This means, in particular, preventing tax evasion. According to one interesting study on the European grey economy produced for my group by a British tax consultant, the grey economy accounts for about 18% of the EU economy, and would bring in an additional EUR 864 billion, if taxed. The fight against tax evasion must be a common EU task. In this context, I support the resolution of the European Parliament on the call to put forward concrete measures for combating tax fraud and tax evasion.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE), in writing. (FI) The EU has been toothless when it comes to tax havens. That is also true of other international actors, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the G20, which consists of the world’s richest countries.

I have called on the European commission to take instant steps to curb tax evasion. It is good that the Commission has also now finally proposed something concrete. The Commission’s proposal that listed extractive and timber companies should produce financial statements for each country does not go far enough, however. Better laws on bookkeeping are required, to ensure that all companies and foundations are obliged to keep accounts for every country.

I am pleased that Parliament’s position, the subject of a vote tomorrow, has improved along the way. It is not reasonable merely to criticise the agreements in place between the EU Member States and third countries. For example, the agreement between Germany and Switzerland to combat new incidences of tax avoidance is estimated to bring as much as EUR 10 billion in additional revenue for Germany next year. We need to try to persuade all EU countries to be involved in these agreements. However, if this is not possible in practical terms, EUR 10 billion in additional revenue, for example, is a lot better than nothing at all.

 
  

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