EU Tax Commissioner-designate Paolo Gentiloni plans to put environmental tax policy at the top of his to-do list.
“My first priority will be to make sure that taxation fully contributes to the European Green Deal. For my part, I will work for a new environmental taxation framework to steer the behavior of users, consumers, and producers towards a climate-neutral economy. I will assess a range of measures, including updating the Energy Tax Directive to align it with environmental objectives and working on a carbon border tax at [the] EU level,” Gentiloni told members of the European Parliament (MEPs) at a confirmation hearing in Brussels October 3.
“We will try to be very quick and effective on the carbon border tax. But the legal and technical elements to define are not simple, as you know,” he told MEPs. “Today we all feel the urgency to work on environmental issues,” he said.
In answers submitted to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in advance of the hearing, Gentiloni wrote that he would work with the next trade commissioner on the introduction of a carbon border tax, and that “the design will have to be carefully crafted to exert political pressure on climate laggards to take action, to ensure that EU companies can compete on a level playing field, and to be fully compatible with rules of the World Trade Organization.”
Gentiloni’s statements were met with approval by Sven Giegold, a German MEP and financial and economic policy spokesperson for the Greens/European Free Alliance.
“The new EU Commission must table ambitious proposals to curb climate change,” Giegold said in a statement released after the hearing. “Only concrete and rapid measures such as an effective tax on kerosene and CO2 can save us from the worst.”
Several MEPs questioned whether Gentiloni’s investments would affect his decisions on digital taxation issues, noting he owned $100,000 in Amazon shares. “Amazon and others are not necessarily held up as exemplars in terms of their taxation policy,” one MEP noted.
Gentiloni said he had already disposed of that part of his portfolio, which seemed to satisfy MEPs. Following up on comments he made in September, Gentiloni said that although he hopes to see a global agreement on digital taxation from the OECD next year, he plans to have an EU digital tax plan waiting in the wings by the third quarter of 2020.
Gentiloni said his third priority is to “keep fighting against tax fraud and evasion, which erodes EU citizens’ trust in taxation systems. I want to benefit taxpayers who play according to the rules and focus punitive action on those that do not.”
MEPs also quizzed Gentiloni on his support of a common consolidated corporate tax base, which he said is essential to eliminating incentives that push aggressive tax planning.
“Gentiloni has credibly stated that he is personally dedicated to continuing the EU Commission’s tax agenda. It is good for Europe that the fight against tax dumping continues. A minimum tax on corporate profits is an important prerequisite for more tax justice in Europe,” Giegold said in an email to Tax Notes.
Markus Ferber, a German MEP from the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) who is the group’s coordinator in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, questioned whether Gentiloni, who served as Italy’s prime minister from 2016 to 2018, would hold the line against exceeding the budgetary limits set by European treaties.
“Mr. Gentiloni’s first serious test case will have to be Italy’s draft budgetary plan that once again comes with a higher than expected nominal and structural deficit. There must be no ‘velvet glove’ treatment for the Italian government,” Ferber stated in an email to Tax Notes.
Gentiloni promised that as an EU commissioner, he would not put his country’s interests ahead of those of Europe as a whole — particularly regarding issues surrounding overstrained budgets, which have plagued Italy in recent years.
By Teri SPRACKLAND
Cet article est extrait de notre service d'actualité Taxnotes