Connect with us

EU

Juncker faces renewed pressure over #Luxembourg tax policy

Published

on

30n02junckertwoap-485712European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker faces renewed claims that he impeded EU moves against corporate tax avoidance when Luxembourg's prime minister, casting a shadow over his political future as a tussle over the bloc's top jobs looms, writes Francesco Guarascio.

Juncker has faced criticism from lawmakers and advocacy groups in past months over tax deals during his 18-year tenure as Luxembourg premier, including favorable arrangements for multinationals including Amazon and Fiat.

Since Juncker took over the top job in Brussels in November 2014, the Commission has launched investigations into those deals.

Citing leaks of German diplomats' internal communications, Britain's Guardian newspaper said on Sunday that Juncker had spent years blocking EU attempts to tackle corporate tax avoidance - prompting euro lawmakers to call on him to appear before an EU parliamentary committee of inquiry.

Asked on Friday (6 January) about the allegations, a commission spokesman said Juncker had launched "an unprecedented wave of active fight against tax avoidance" and been "fully transparent" on tax issues while campaigning for the presidency and during his mandate in Brussels.

Gianni Pittella, who heads the centre-left grouping in the European Parliament and is running for presidency of the legislature at elections planned this month, said on Friday Juncker should clarify his position at the inquiry and share all relevant documents.

"European citizens, the taxpayers, have the right to know the truth about past conduct," Pittella said.

The leftist and green groupings in Parliament, which together account for 102 of the 751 seats, have also urged Juncker to appear before the committee, and the leftists have called on him to step down as commission president.

Asked if Juncker would attend the inquiry, the Commission spokesman said: "The President is always ready to cooperate with Parliament... He has nothing to hide."

As Commission president, Juncker has pushed ahead ambitious reforms of EU tax rules to curb tax avoidance - which, unlike tax evasion, is not illegal.

But with the backing of all 28 EU governments needed for changes to tax legislation, progress has been slow.

The parliamentary presidency election may also have a bearing on Juncker's future.

The centre-right grouping, the largest in the legislature, is posed to win the vote, a result that would give the conservatives the top three positions in the EU.

They already hold the Commission presidency with Juncker and the European Council presidency with Donald Tusk.

But the centre-left, the second largest grouping which recently ended a decade-long alliance with the conservatives, wants one of the key posts after the outgoing parliamentary president, socialist Martin Schulz, steps down.

Cyber-espionage

EU countries test their ability to co-operate in the event of cyber attacks

Published

on

EU member states, the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and the European Commission have met to test and assess their co-operation capabilities and resilience in the event of a cybersecurity crisis. The exercise, organized by the Netherlands with the support of ENISA, is a key milestone towards the completion of  relevant operating procedures. The latter are developed in the framework of the NIS Co-operation Group, under the leadership of France and Italy, and aim for more coordinated information sharing and incident response among EU cybersecurity authorities.

Furthermore, member states, with the support of ENISA, launched today the Cyber Crisis Liaison Organization Network (CyCLONe) aimed at facilitating cooperation in case of disruptive cyber incidents.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “The new Cyber Crisis Liaison Organization Network indicates once again an excellent cooperation between the member states and the EU institutions in ensuring that our networks and critical systems are cyber secure. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we should work collectively in preparing and implementing rapid emergency response plans, for example in case of a large-scale cyber incident or crisis.”

ENISA Executive Director Juhan Lepassaar added: "Cyber crises have no borders. The EU Agency for Cybersecurity is committed to support the Union in its response to cyber incidents. It is important that the national cybersecurity agencies come together to coordinate decision-making at all levels. The CyCLONe group addresses this missing link.”

The CyCLONe Network will ensure that information flows more efficiently among different cybersecurity structures in the member states and will allow to better coordinate national response strategies and impact assessments. Moreover, the exercise organized follows up on the Commission's recommendation on a Coordinated Response to Large Scale Cybersecurity Incidents and Crises (Blueprint) that was adopted in 2017.

More information is available in this ENISA press release. More information on the EU cybersecurity strategy can be found in these Q&A and this brochure.

Continue Reading

coronavirus

 Commission approves €32 million Polish aid scheme to compensate airports for damage suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a PLN 142 million (approximately €32m) Polish aid scheme to compensate airports for the damage suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. In order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, on 15 March 2020, Poland banned all international and domestic air passenger services at Polish airports. The flight restrictions were progressively lifted as of 1 June 2020, but certain travel warnings, travel bans and restrictive measures remained in place until the end of June 2020.

This resulted in high operating losses for the operators of Polish airports. Under the scheme, the Polish authorities will be able to compensate airports for the revenue losses suffered during the period between 15 March and 30 June 2020, as a result of the restrictive measures on international and domestic air passenger services implemented by Poland. The support will take the form of direct grants.

The scheme includes a claw-back mechanism, whereby any possible public support in excess of the actual damage received by the beneficiaries will have to be paid back to the Polish State. The risk of the state aid exceeding the damage is therefore excluded. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors (in the form of schemes) for the damage directly caused by restrictive measures taken in exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the  scheme notified by Poland will provide compensation for damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.58212 once confidentiality issues have been resolved.

Continue Reading

Belgium

Commission approves €2.2 million Belgian aid measures to support Flemish airports in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

The European Commission has approved €2.2 million Belgian aid measures to support the operators of Flemish airports (Antwerp airport, Ostend airport and Kortrijk airport) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measures were approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The measures consist in: (i) an aid scheme, under which all Flemish airport operators will receive support in the form of a direct grant; and (ii) support to the operators of Antwerp and Ostend airports in the form of payment deferrals of certain costs and fees (namely annual compensation for the use of statutory staff of the Flemish Region and concession fee for the use of the airport infrastructure due for the year 2020).

The purpose of the aid measures is to help Flemish airport operators mitigating the liquidity shortages that they have been facing due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found the measures to be in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the measures can only be granted until the end of this year; (ii) the direct grants do not exceed €800,000 per company, as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (iii) the payment deferrals will be granted by 31 December 2020, and will be due by no later than 31 December 2021 and involve minimum remuneration, in line with the Temporary Framework.

The Commission therefore concluded that the measures are necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58299 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Twitter

Trending