I am delighted to have this opportunity to discuss a topic that goes to the heart of the OECD’s mission, and to the heart of our collaboration with the Slovak Republic: improving tax fairness and tackling tax evasion. This year, both the OECD and the Slovak EU Council Presidency have made an important contribution to making international taxation fair and effective.
To achieve a euro area fiscal stance that fosters the recovery, countries with fiscal space under the Stability and Growth Pact rules should use budgetary support to raise growth, and existing incentives and flexibility should be taken advantage of to pursue reforms of tax and spending policies.
The European Commission will assess again the fiscal situation of Portugal and Spain, and decide whether to recommend to the Council that the Excessive Deficit Procedure be stepped up for those countries, exposing them to various sanctions. This momentous decision can have major consequences for the countries concerned, but also wider implications.
On 1 December 2015 the OECD agreed on a common way forward in response to a request submitted by the European Commission pursuant to a mandate from EU Member States to include additional fields in the CRS XML Schema. This request was made further to the work of the European Commission and the EU Member States on the implementation of the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Information in Tax Matters within the European Union.
The European Commission presented today an Action Plan to fundamentally reform corporate taxation in the EU. The Action Plan sets out a series of initiatives to tackle tax avoidance, secure sustainable revenues and strengthen the Single Market for businesses.
The OECD and the EU have worked hand in hand over many years to tackle some of the greatest challenges on the international tax agenda. Working together to ensure the coherence of global tax rules is absolutely critical – for governments and for business, coherency improves effectiveness, increases efficiency and reduces unnecessary compliance costs.
The OECD Secretary-General Gurría welcomed the announcement and congratulated the Commission for the work done. "The European Commission’s initiative is another major step to tackle corporate tax avoidance.
Vast amounts of money are kept off-shore and go untaxed. The more we do to combat tax fraud and evasion, the more resources we will have to finance growth-enhancing public investment, restore the health of public finances, and put the euro area economy back on a sustained and long-term recovery, said OECD Secretary-General.
Europe is putting in place a new system of fiscal rules following the euro area sovereign debt crisis and decades of rising government to debt-to-GDP ratios. These include the so-called "six pack" to upgrade the Stability and Growth Pact to a new Treaty incorporating the "fiscal compact".
There is growing interest in the role of independent fiscal institutions, or fiscal councils, in helping to improve fiscal performance.