Tax transparency: EU member states lack ambition yet again
S&D MEPs expressed their disappointment today that finance ministers from across the EU have once again missed the opportunity to put their promises into action in the fight against tax evasion by multinational companies.
The Ecofin Council reached an agreement yesterday on the automatic exchange of information between the 28 national tax authorities. The decision, addressing country-by-country reporting of the taxes and revenues of multinational companies, is certainly a step in the right direction for tax transparency.
However the exceptions introduced by the ministers in the Commission's proposal – which already only covered the bare minimum – risk undermining the measures to fight tax evasion.
The S&D Group also criticised the fact that the Council reached an agreement without waiting for the European Parliament to reach a position, even though it was announced that the decisions taken today will not be officially endorsed until next May.
French MEP Emmanuel Maurel, who will negotiate on this draft directive for the S&D Group, expressed his regret at the decision:
"While they had committed to the EU going further than the OECD's minimum standards, the compromise will allow tax authorities to use commercial secrecy or administrative difficulties to refuse to share information with their partners.
"At the same time, the obligations on transparency will only affect 10-15% of the large multinational companies in reality, as only those with a turnover above €750 million will be included. In order to have tax equality between businesses, all the multinationals considered 'large companies' under European law should be included, above a threshold of €40 million."
Elisa Ferreira, the S&D Group's spokesperson on economic and monetary affairs, stressed:
"This text represents a necessary step towards a more ambitious approach which the European Parliament has long been arguing for so that country-by-country revenue and tax declarations can be made public.
"The scandal of tax evasion by multinationals – which means small businesses and citizens are obliged to finance the lion's share of public budgets – must end once and for all."