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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 18 / 03/ 2015

Brussels, 18 March 2015

Combatting corporate tax avoidance: Commission presents a first Tax Transparency Package

The European Commission today presented a package of tax transparency measures as part of its ambitious agenda to tackle corporate tax avoidance and harmful tax competition in the EU. This marks the start of a new era of transparency. Today’s package includes a legislative proposal introducing the automatic exchange of information between Member States on their tax rulings and a communication outlining a number of other initiatives to advance the tax transparency agenda in the EU. "Everyone has to pay their fair share of tax. This applies to multinationals as to everyone else. With today’s proposal on the automatic exchange of information, tax authorities would be able to better identify loopholes or duplication of tax between Member States. In the coming months, we will put forward concrete actions to tackle such loopholes or overlaps. We are committed to following up on our promises with real, credible and fair action," said Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "Tolerance has reached rock-bottom for companies that avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and for the regimes that enable them to do this. We have to rebuild the link between where companies really make their profits and where they are taxed. To do this, Member States need to open up and work together. That is what today's Tax Transparency Package aims to achieve." Corporate tax avoidance is thought to deprive EU Member States’ public budgets of billions of euros a year. It also undermines fair burden-sharing among tax-payers and fair competition between businesses. Companies rely on the complexity of tax rules and the lack of cooperation between Member States to shift profits and minimise their taxes. Therefore, boosting transparency and cooperation is vital in the battle against aggressive tax planning and abusive tax practices. Today's Tax Transparency Package aims to ensure that Member States are equipped with the information they need to protect their tax bases and effectively target companies that try to escape paying their fair share of taxes. The press release is available in all EU languages here. More information of today’s texts can also be found in an online Fact sheet. The speaking points used by Commissioner Moscovici are available here. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)




Agriculture: 150 million euro approved for the School Fruit Scheme

The national allocation of the 150 million euro of EU funds for the School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme in 2015-16, proposed by the European Commission, was accepted by Member States. This scheme aims at distributing portions of fruit and vegetables in schools, potentially reaching 12 million children aged 6 to 10 years old across the 25 participating Member States. It was established in 2009 to reverse the trend of declining fruit and vegetables consumption by specifically addressing children. In turn, higher fruit and vegetables consumption is also supporting efforts to establish healthier eating habits amongst school children. Nutrition plays an important role in combating health problems related to poor nutrition, such as child obesity. Since 2014, the scheme also co-funds accompanying educational measures to explain the potential benefits. More information can be found here. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Ficosa International by Panasonic and Ficosa Inversion

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Ficosa International ("Ficosa") by Ficosa Inversion ("FI"), both of Spain and Panasonic of Japan. Panasonic is active worldwide in the development and engineering of electronic technologies and solutions. FI's activity is limited to be the holding company of the shares in Ficosa. Ficosa develops and manufactures systems and components for different types of vehicles. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the limited increment in the companies' combined market share, the presence of a significant number of competitors and the countervailing buyer power of original equipment manufacturers. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7496. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EUROSTAT: Euro area international trade in goods surplus €7.9 bn - €10.6 bn deficit for EU28

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in January 2015 was €148.2 billion, nearly stable compared with January 2014 (€148.8 bn). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €140.3 bn, a fall of 6% compared with January 2014 (€148.7 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €7.9 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in January 2015, compared with +€0.1 bn in January 2014. Intra-euro area trade fell to €130.5 bn in January 2015, -5% compared with January 2014. Eurostat release available here. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

EUROSTAT: Production in construction up by 1.9% in euro area - Up by 1.0% in EU28

In January 2015 compared with December 2014, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector grew by 1.9% in the euro area (EA19) and by 1.0% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In December 2014, production in construction grew by 0.2% in both zones. In January 2015 compared with January 2014, production in construction grew by 3.0% in the euro area and by 1.4% in the EU28. Eurostat press release available here. (for more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)




Next trilateral gas talks between the EU, Russia and Ukraine on Friday 20 March

The next trilateral meeting between the EU, Russia and Ukraine is confirmed for Friday 20 March in Brussels. Russian Energy Minister Novak and Ukrainian Minister Demchyshyn will attend on invitation by Vice-President Šefčovič who will mediate the talks on behalf of the European Commission. As agreed during the latest talks on 2 March (see STATEMENT), the parties have stated their willingness to continue their trilateral talks in order to agree on the follow up to the gas Winter Package, as called for in the Declaration of Minsk of 12 February 2015. Media arrangements for 20 March are under consideration. A technical briefing OFF the record will take place for accredited journalists only on Thursday 19 March at 11:00 CET in the Berlaymont press room. (for more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Progress on illegal logging and timber imports: conference on forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT)

Commissioner Mimica is participating in an event on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) which is taking place this week in Brussels (16-19 March) to address progress and challenges in the fight against illegal logging and timber imports. Coinciding with the evaluation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan this year, the conference offers an important opportunity to reflect on the progress so far, 12 years after it came into effect, from its impact on illegal logging operations and forest governance to the sale of illegal timber on the EU market. EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will provide closing remarks on Thursday 19 March. Organised by the European Commission, the conference brings together representatives from government, business and civil society in Europe, and timber-producing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


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