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Brussels, 20 June 2014
Commissioner Šemeta welcomes Council agreement on measures to fight tax avoidance
"Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our campaign against corporate tax avoidance marches on, with further important advances today.
I am delighted that Finance Ministers have agreed on a crucial revision to the Parent-Subsidiary Directive, which will block a prevalent form of aggressive tax planning, known as hybrid loan arrangements.
No longer will companies be able to exploit this loophole in our legislation to minimise their tax bills.
That is good news for public budgets, good news for honest businesses and good news for those who seek fair taxation in the EU.
Over the past month, we have been able to assuage particular concerns that two Member States – Sweden and Malta – had on this issue.
As a result, all 28 Member States could give their full backing to this proposal today, thereby tightening our common rules in a way which will benefit them all.
Following my meeting this morning with Italian Finance Minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, I have every confidence that the upcoming Italian Presidency will be able to secure agreement on a general anti-abuse rule, which is the other amendment we have proposed to this Directive.
With these revisions, the Parent-Subsidiary Directive will remain an important tool in creating a business-friendly environment in the EU, without giving unintended opportunities to tax evaders.
In a similar vein, I also welcome the Council's green light for the Commission to start a broad assessment of all Patent Boxes in the EU.
Member States' tax incentives should never be used to lure profits away from where they should rightfully be taxed. We must verify that the principles of fair play are not being undermined.
However, we will begin our assessment immediately, and expand it further as Member States clarify the criteria for certain elements. I remain hopeful that a full evaluation will be delivered to Finance Ministers by the end of this year, as they requested last December.
Last, but certainly not least, our two year dialogue with Switzerland on corporate taxation has formally been closed today, with successful results. Switzerland has agreed to remove a number of harmful tax regimes that were of concern to Member States. Our efforts to secure fair tax competition are bearing fruit, even beyond EU borders. I must commend everyone involved in these discussions for the great outcome, and the Member States themselves for the support they lent this process.
Our work now continues, through our participation in the OECD BEPS project to clamp down on tax avoidance. Our sights are set on tackling unfair tax practices worldwide. If we continue to work as a Union, with ambition and determination, I have great hopes that this can be achieved. "