“The European Union should maintain the sense of urgency, but aim at a permanent multilateral solution.” This was stated by Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna, during the Informal Economy and Finance (Ecofin) Ministers meeting, organised by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in Sofia, on 27-28 April 2018. The meeting enabled the Ministers to exchange views on a number of salient issues that Europe is currently facing, with special reference to the Commission’s proposal for a temporary digital tax on global digital companies like Google and Amazon.
Minister Scicluna stated that while he recognised that there is a common interest in agreeing a new set of international tax rules in the digital economy, and therefore he is ready to engage in the discussions at an EU level, his country prefers a global solution.
The Minister acknowledged that he fails to see any difference between the short- and long-term solutions proposed by the EU Commission, since both involve action affecting third countries, and involve the re-allocation of taxing rights.
Minister Scicluna explained that the EU should be more concerned with whether it wants to risk a unilateral approach or take the more sensible multilateral approach. Referring to the ASEM Finance Ministers meeting held on 26 April, he observed that the Asian partners expressed certain dismay at the EU opting for a unilateral approach at a time where countries world-wide are frowning upon such an approach in the trade field.
Earlier in the day the meeting discussed the European Monetary Union was with a special focus on the Roadmap agreed in 2016 on completing the Banking Union. Ministers also deliberated on the reform of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) that is currently underway, exploring the best way to transform the ESM into a common backstop of the Single Resolution Fund (SRF). Ministers reiterated the need to accelerate the completion of the Capital Markets Union through a targeted priority list focusing on Pan European Pension Plans (PEPPs), business insolvency and strengthening the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).
A Eurogroup meeting was held prior to the Ecofin meeting. Amongst various issues it also discussed wages in the context of their relevance on the macro-economic adjustment in a currency union. Ministers were also informed of the state of play of Greece.
Saturday 28th April 2018