Swoboda on EU summit outcome: „Finally, some progress – but the fight against tax evasion and havens is only beginning“

The European Council of heads of state and government today convened to discuss energy policy and taxation. The leaders signalled progress on several files previously blocked in the Council of the EU, but failed to deliver a new framework for the fight against tax evasion.

Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, commented on the outcome of the summit:

„Once again, we witness heads of state and government paying lip service to the fight against tax evasion, fraud and havens – but when given the opportunity to agree a more efficient framework, inaction wins over progress. I deplore that the Council fails to mention the need for a clear definition of tax havens and for an EU blacklist, as well as the need to agree the headline target of halving the tax gap by 2020. These items were all agreed by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament just yesterday.

„However, we do welcome the European Council’s signal that progress is likely on the Taxation Savings Directive, the Quick Reaction Mechanism and the automatic exchange of information. It is essential that those countries which have blocked advances until now – notably Austria and Luxembourg – accept the unequivocal necessity of lifting banking secrecy for EU non-residents. We will certainly press the Council and the Commission to implement these promises swiftly and not add action evasion to tax evasion.

„Letting European tax authorities lose €1 trillion each year when Europe is in dire need of investment in jobs and growth, is outrageous. Swift, targeted action to reduce the tax gap and increase public financial resources – without increasing the tax burden on citizens – must be among Europe’s first actions to strengthen investment in growth and jobs.“

On the issue of energy, Hannes Swoboda added:

„Everybody agrees that energy production and consumption in Europe should be improved and made greener. But to make this a reality, we need binding targets for member states. In this way, we could offer more security for investors, maintain the EU’s position as the world’s industrial leader and simultaneously create jobs. Regarding the energy mix across Europe, we need a greater proportion of renewables, not only to protect the environment but also to reduce our dependency on ever more costly imported oil and gas.“