20 May

European Council focused on digital taxation ahead of international debate (but no agreement on the package of mesures)

European Council focused on digital taxation ahead of international debate (17 May). Ministers discussed current international tax reforms, with a view to preparing upcoming OECD and G20 debates.

The presidency will feed the views expressed by ministers into the preparations of the G20 finance ministers meetings of June in Fukuoka where the OECD is expected to report progress on reforming international corporate taxation. The Ecofin Chair intends to present the outcome of Ecofin discussions at the G20 meeting.

Ministers assessed possibilities to prepare negotiations in the OECD on the ongoing international debate on long-term comprehensive solutions addressing both the challenges of taxation in the digitalised economy and broader issues related to the allocation of taxing rights and tax competition.

Excise duty
The Council discussed measures to improve the business environment for excise goods, in particular alcohol and alcoholic beverages, by ensuring fair competition and reducing administrative burden for companies.

The Council exchanged views on the following proposals:

– The directive on the structures of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.
– The directive on general arrangements for excise duty
– The regulation on administrative cooperation on the content of electronic registers

Despite the significant progress achieved in the negotiations, ministers didn’t reach a final agreement on the package of measures. The Council will continue to work at technical level with a view to reaching a compromise acceptable for all member states as soon as possible.

Excise duties are indirect taxes on the sale or use of specific products, such as alcohol, tobacco and energy. The revenue from these taxes goes entirely to the country to which they are paid. Since 1992, EU countries have had in place common rules to make sure that excise duties are applied in the same way and to the same products everywhere in the EU.

European Semester in 2019
In the framework of the European semester exercise for 2019, the Council adopted conclusions on the outcomes of the in-depth reviews and the implementation of the 2018 country-specific recommendations.

By: Estela Martín

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