Tuesday, January 24, 2006

2006 Austrian and Finnish EU Presidency

The operational programme of the council for 2006 submitted by the incoming Austrian and Finnish EU Presidencies was made publicly available. This programme sets out the main objectives for the work of the Council in 2006.

Accordingly, the two Presidencies will work closely together in order to ensure that the work of the Council during 2006 contributes to all beautiful things we (citizens of Europe) would expect from an institution like Europe (i.e. economic and social welfare, protection of environment, freedom and security of European citizens as well as strengthening the role of the Union within the world).

In the field of taxation, the program is short in detail. In that regard, the program set out to say that, “against the general objective of a more cost-efficient and transparent regulatory framework, EU tax rules need to be partly reconsidered and further developed. In addition, measures are necessary to remove obstacles for cross-border activities and distortions in competition between Member States”. This is again the “much I say about nothing” approach... Or "let the ECJ set the standard and we go along" approach.

With regard to indirect taxes, the two Presidencies will continue initiatives on simplifying and modernising the VAT system as well as the excise duties (e.g. alcohol beverages). In this field there is at least a set of objectives that need to be achieve in the medium term and therefore we know we can expect the “step-by-step” approach mixed with the “one step back two steps forward” approach (or inverse Lenine approach if you prefer).

With respect to direct taxes, the two Presidencies state that thy will look close to the work on a common consolidated tax base for companies which is expected to be continued at technical and political level. This means “let them go on with the work until I decide if I like it or not” approach.

As one can see, the approaches are now on the table and it is for the "leaders" to dance around the table and take the decisions!


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