Ladies and Gentlemen,
In every EU country, dealing with the economic impact of the coronavirus has cost a great deal of public money.
The EU is continuing to help as much as it can.
However, as the recovery gets underway, many countries will be shouldering more debt and have less fiscal room for manoeuvre.
So it is more important than ever to have secure and guaranteed tax revenues.
For that, we need the support of a fair, efficient and sustainable tax system.
In fact, we depend on it.
Each EU country should have adequate resources to invest in the people and businesses who need them most.
At the same time, we need to:
-keep things simple and remove unnecessary tax barriers;
-clamp down on tax fraud, avoidance and evasion;
-make it easier for EU companies to innovate, invest and grow.
These are the objectives of the tax package that the College adopted this morning.
It includes an action plan with 25 initiatives that we intend to put into effect from now until 2024 to make taxation fairer, simpler and more adapted to modern technologies.
Each one will support a rapid and sustainable economic recovery as well as secure sufficient flows of public revenue.
Let me elaborate a little on the principles and philosophy of the package before handing over to Paolo for more of the details.
First, on simplification:
Let's not forget that the complexity that comes from 27 different tax systems does not only create loopholes for tax abuse. It creates uncertainty for overwhelmed honest taxpayers around the EU who may - inadvertently - fail to comply with the rules.
Our tax rules should be user-friendly and transparent, simple to implement and comply with, and easy to enforce.
They should allow people and businesses to get the full benefit from the single market so they can work and invest across EU countries, and create jobs.
Our action plan covers the cycle of interaction between tax authorities and their customers, what we call the ‘taxpayer's journey': from registering your business, to reporting, payment, verification, dealing with disputes. We have put forward simplification measures, and measures to reduce tax barriers for cross-border investments.
Second, on fairness - both within the EU and with our global partners.
Making sure that taxation is fair has always been a priority.
That certainly remains the case. This is how we protect public revenues for investing in people and infrastructure.
This means stepping up the fight against tax abuse, curbing unfair tax competition and increasing tax transparency.
It means that everyone has to pay their fair share of taxes. Everyone from private individuals, local businesses to multinational corporations.
This is a collective responsibility that nobody should avoid.
In this context, we have also published a Communication on Tax Good Governance.
Since its creation in 1997, The Council's Code of Conduct Group has been the main forum to prevent harmful tax competition within the EU. With this Communication, we are exploring how the Code of Conduct group could be reformed to be more far-reaching in terms of assessing different forms of harmful tax regimes that Member States may have in place. Again, this comes down to fairness.
Now, on to the rest of the world:
Our Communication on Tax Good Governance carries forward the work we began four years ago with our first External Strategy.
That provided a coherent and holistic approach for the EU to promote tax good governance globally and to engage with our international partners on tax matters.
We launched a new tool to encourage our international partners to adhere to agreed tax good governance standards, through the EU listing process, or the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.
Today we are putting forward ideas to improve the EU listing system. This could include, for example, extending the geographical scope and listing criteria for jurisdictions that fall short, or strengthening defensive measures.
The third part of today's package involves revising the Directive on Administrative Cooperation, or DAC 7.
People and companies who make money by selling goods and services via platforms should also pay their fair share of tax.
So, as part of the EU's digital transition, we want to extend EU rules on tax transparency to digital platforms.
In the future, EU countries should automatically exchange information about revenues that sellers generate by using online platforms.
The idea is also to strengthen and clarify rules in areas where national governments work together to fight tax abuse, for example, joint tax audits.
Ladies and gentlemen
Today's tax package is just the first part of a comprehensive EU tax agenda for the coming years.
We will be working on a new approach to business taxation to address the challenges of the digital economy and to make sure that all multinationals pay their fair share.
With that, I hand the floor to Paolo to make some further remarks. Thank you.