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SPEECH - TAX GOOD GOVERNANCE PLATFORM

Commission Européenne - SPEECH/13/351   23/04/2013

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European Commission

Algirdas Šemeta

Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union, Statistics, Audit and Anti-fraud

TAX GOOD GOVERNANCE PLATFORM

Statement at the Midday Press Briefing

Brussels, 23 April 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here to present the Commission's latest initiative in the on-going fight against tax evasion.

Today we have established a Platform for Tax Good Governance, to ensure real delivery on an EU approach against tax evaders and avoiders.

This Platform was foreseen in the Action Plan I presented last December.

In bringing together national authorities and non-governmental experts, it will serve as a forum to coordinate and develop the best possible defence against tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens.

But, just as importantly, it will serve as a source of strong peer pressure.

In recent weeks, we have seen a renewed vigour amongst Member States to take up the fight against tax evasion. This is a highly welcome development.

However, words must be turned into deeds. Good intentions must develop into concrete actions.

The Platform that I am launching today will keep Member States on their toes.

It will closely monitor progress in the actions to fight evasion, and raise the alarm if momentum appears to be lagging.

In short, it will ensure that results mirror expectations when it comes to fighting tax evasion within the EU.

Meanwhile, we will continue to press our international partners to follow our lead in applying the highest possible good governance standards.

Last week's discussions at the G20 meeting in Washington signalled a new openness to the idea of automatic information exchange at international level.

The EU, as the pioneer of automatic exchange, will use a united stance to push this agenda strongly.

As a top priority, we must engage with our closest neighbours, who benefit greatly from the EU's Single Market. They cannot isolate themselves from the shift towards more transparency.

The tide has turned towards greater information exchange, and they must know that this current is too strong to swim against.

In tandem, the EU will be an active partner to the OECD in seeking automatic exchange of information as the global standard. We will do everything necessary to secure the right commitments on this at the G8 Summit in June and the G20 Summit in September.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let's remember what the battle against tax evasion is really about.

It's about protecting the fairness of our tax systems, so honest tax-payers don't pay for the deeds of the dishonest.

It's about protecting our competitiveness, so that our free markets and open economies are not left vulnerable to abuse.

And it's about protecting the solidarity between our Member States. Fair play and a united approach is the only way that everyone will be able to collect their legitimate revenues.

There is too much at stake for this battle to be lost.

So it is time for real action to be taken together, using our strength as a Union to achieve the results we all seek.


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