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Ireland Opposes Majority Voting On Major EU Tax Proposals

by Jason Gorringe,, London

12 February 2019

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that he does not see the need for the EU to scrap the requirement for unanimous voting on tax issues.

Under the current rules, all EU member states must unanimously agree on sensitive policy issues.

In a statement to the Irish parliament's joint committee on finance, public expenditure, and reform, Donohoe said that this "is a highly sensitive suggestion for many member states," because "any move to change the voting method" used to decide upon key matters of tax policy would "reduce member states' sovereignty."

In January, the European Commission recommended a gradual transition in four steps to qualified majority voting (QMV). Step one would see member states move to QMV decision making on measures designed to improve cooperation and mutual assistance in fighting tax fraud and evasion. Step two would introduce QMV for measures in which taxation is intended to support other policy goals. Step three would apply QMV in areas where harmonized EU rules already exist. The fourth and final stage would be to introduce QMV on other tax initiatives the commission argues are necessary for the Single Market and for fair and competitive taxation in Europe.

Donohoe argued that much has been achieved on tax issues at an EU level in recent years and pointed out that the requirement for unanimity "has not prevented the agreement of an unprecedented 21 different tax initiatives by all member states." He said that this includes "important Directives on VAT, administrative cooperation, anti-tax avoidance and, also, the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions."

"Given the large volume of important agreements reached at EU level on tax issues, I do not see the need for, or merits of, any proposals to move away from the requirement for unanimity," Donohoe explained.

TAGS: compliance | tax | European Commission | value added tax (VAT) | tax compliance | Ireland | tax avoidance | tax incentives | corporation tax | agreements | European Union (EU) | Europe

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