The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union is attaching great importance to the general improvement of business and employment conditions across the EU bloc. Chaired by Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna, today’s ECOFIN Council discussed measures to unlock the potential of the digital single market by introducing non-standard VAT rates for electronic publications. The new VAT rates for electronic publications is part of a broader plan to modernise the EU VAT regime under the digital single market package of initiatives.
PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FINANCE
The ECOFIN Council Agenda included a discussion on the European Semester and the country-specific recommendations that form part of the whole economic and fiscal analytical process, a follow-up on the conclusions of the G20 meeting that was held in Baden-Baden last week, and an orientation debate on the VAT recharge mechanism.
Addressing a press conference together with Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis, Minister Scicluna stated that today’s ECOFIN Council focused on reform experiences in the areas of business and employment environments under the European Semester. Minister Scicluna said that “the only way for countries to overcome the so-called ‘reform fatigue’ is to share the experiences of fellow Member States of how they managed to undertake them in a more appetising manner.” Minister Scicluna further added that “the presentations made today in the Council have achieved the desired objective.”
Minister Scicluna briefed the ECOFIN Council on the deliberations of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting that was held in Baden-Baden last week. The Minister stated that the contentious issues at the meeting were international trade and multilateralism, leading to a final communiqué of the meeting which was weaker than desired. However, this meeting had on its agenda other matters, including the Compact with Africa, and the work of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), especially in relation to the issue of correspondent banking services.
The ECOFIN Council also discussed the proposal of some Member States to introduce a VAT recharge mechanism to address VAT fraud in cross-border transactions which account for about €50 billion in lost VAT revenues across the EU bloc.
Prior to ECOFIN Council, Edward Scicluna participated in the Eurogroup meeting which discussed the implementation of the Member States’ draft budgetary plan for 2017 and the budgetary situation of the Eurozone.
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna was accompanied by the Permanent Representative of Malta Marlene Bonnici, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Finance Alfred Camilleri, and Chief of Staff Tania Brown.
Tuesday 21st March 2017