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European Commission


Dublin, 13 April 2013

Commissioner Šemeta on tax evasion: Ecofin speaking points

It’s a bit of a surprise – but a very nice one – to be here in Dublin today, and to be able to share with you the outcome of a highly engaging discussion we had on tax evasion.

The surge in Member States’ appetite for progress and action in the fight against evasion is extremely welcome.

So what have did hear in today’s discussion?

I heard that our Member States want quick agreement on the EU Savings Directive and the mandates to negotiate stronger tax agreements with Switzerland and others.

I heard that they want earlier implementation of our new rules, for stronger administrative cooperation and better transparency.

And I heard that they want our high good governance standards to then be exported globally.

These declarations are not only extremely welcome, but highly achievable.

They echo what the Commission has long been calling for.

And as a result, the tools are already on the table, waiting to be seized.

Many of the Member States also recognised that this is part of a wider agenda, which also includes a tougher stance against tax havens and abusive tax planning.

I urged Member States – particularly taking into account recent revelations – to raise their ambitions. They must agree on tougher, common solutions on the basis of the recommendations I made last December.

Because let’s remember what this is all about:

It’s about 1 trillion euros that we are losing from public budgets every year

It’s about creating a fairer environment for citizens, many of whom are currently carrying a heavy tax burden due to the crisis

It’s about allowing Member States to make the right tax choices for them, without being threatened by the malpractices of others

In a nutshell, it’s about fairness and EU solidarity.

So where must we go from here?

I expect today’s discussions to be formalised and turned into decisions without delay.

I expect agreement on the stronger Savings Directive within weeks, along with a mandate to start negotiating with Switzerland and the other neighbours

I expect the new EU administrative cooperation rules to be applied fully and swiftly

And with these weapons in our arsenal, we can then start a coherent, coordinated and irrefutable push for greater transparency, automatic exchange of information and tax governance internationally.

It is on issues such as tax evasion that we can really appreciate the value of being a Union, with the strength in numbers that brings.

The European Council repeatedly called for renewed efforts to improve the efficiency of tax collection and to tackle tax evasion. As they resume this discussion in May, let them do so on the basis of real progress.

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