Copenhagen and Commission determined to boost fight against fraud

The European Commission and the Danish EU Council Presidency have not remained deaf to the European Parliament’s “call for concrete ways to combat tax fraud and tax evasion”: they have agreed to redouble their efforts to break the stalemate on the savings taxation debate

MEPs will vote, on 19 April, on a resolution calling for an end to banking secrecy in the EU and early agreement with Switzerland on revision of the 2004 savings taxation agreement between this country and the Union.

On 18 April, the European Parliament debated the issue. Before the debate got under way, however, S&D group leader set the tone at a press conference: “The time has come to inject a taxation dimension into the Union’s debate” in order to refill the coffers of crisis-plagued member states. “There is a lot of money in bank accounts in Switzerland and in other tax havens. We have to react,” he exclaimed, urging the 27 member states to put up a “united front” against Bern, rather than negotiating individual ‘Rubik agreements’ with it.

Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta followed suit: “The Council’s progress on Commission proposals is too slow. The 27 finance ministers have to find a way to break this overly long stalemate” on the update of EU rules on savings taxation.

This is obviously easier said than done, since Luxembourg and Austria still refuse to give the Commission a mandate to renegotiate the agreement with Bern.

Danish European Affairs Minister representing the Presidency, said the matter would nevertheless be put before the 27 finance ministers, “I hope on 15 May,” otherwise on 22 June.

Copenhagen makes no secrecy of its intentions: it plans to demand that Switzerland make the same concessions to the 27 that it has made to the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom on information exchange between tax administrations on request.