[WATCH] A vote for Labour MEPs is a vote for Frans Timmermans' ‘tax harmonisation agenda’, PN says

European Commission presidential candidate Frans Timmermans stance in favour of a harmonised tax rate for EU companies will put investment and jobs in Malta in danger, the PN has warned

The PN said that a vote for Labour MEPs would be a vote for tax harmonization
The PN said that a vote for Labour MEPs would be a vote for tax harmonization

Voting for Labour Party MEPs would serve to give the stamp of approval to European Commission presidential candidate Frans Timmermans' plans to introduce a uniform system of tax for companies across the European Union, the Nationalist Party has said.

In a press conference on Friday, PN MP Mario De Marco said that, earlier this week, Timmermans - who is the Socialists and Democrats' candidate for the European Parliament - signalled during a debate that he was in favour of a harmonised rate of tax for all member states' companies.

Since the Labour Party, which is also part of the S&D group, backs Timmermans, voting for PL MEPs would be a vote for tax harmonisation for companies, De Marco argued.

"A vote of Labour means a vote for Frans Timmermans who wants to introduce a uniform tax rate for all companies in the EU. The PN will keep insisting that it should be our country which decides on tax matters, and it will continue defending our sovereignty in this regard."

De Marco emphasised that one of the reasons the financial services sector in Malta was successful was because of the island's competitive tax regime, through which it could attract investment in the sector.

"I am sure our economic growth in the last 15 years was due to our flexible tax system," he said.

MEP Roberta Metsola insisted that the PN, both when in government and in Opposition, had been consistent in saying that matters of fiscal policy should remain in the hands of each of the member states.

Joseph Muscat with the lead candidate for the Socialists and Democrats Frans Timmermans
Joseph Muscat with the lead candidate for the Socialists and Democrats Frans Timmermans

"The support given by Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party to Frans Timmermans isn't in the interest of Malta, its economy or its workers," Metsola said. "Timmermans' proposal will put investment in danger in Malta and will lead to lost jobs."

She added that the Nationalist Party had strived to stop anyone from labelling Malta as a tax haven, and, had it not been for the work of its MEPs, several reports would say Malta had the status of a tax haven, Metsola added.

Asked whether she saw any hypocrisy in the PN’s statement, given that several MEPs who were critical of Malta’s rule of law – and who PN MEPs had allied themselves with – where the same calling for tax harmonization, Metsola said that such a question should be put to the Labour Party’s MEPs.

“The only group in the European Parliament who are pushing for tax harmonization are the S&D, of which Labour are a member.”

"On the other hand, when we speak about the rule of law - as a political group we tabled a proposal presented by Manfred Weber which says that we should have an objective mechanism which studies all member states institutions and how they work. If they are found to work well, the focus on that country will stop. I hope that the focus on Malta in this regard stops in the next five years, which is what I intend to do, so I can restore the reputation of Malta."

The European People's Party - the PN's political group - had tabled a proposal, presented by its own European Parliament candidate Manfred Weber, which sets to create an objective EU mechanism through which member states institutions' can be studied, Metsola said. 

"If the institutions are found to be functioning well, the focus on that particular country will cease. I hope that, over the next five years, there does not remain a focus on the rule of law in Malta. This is what I intend to work for - restoring Malta's reputation," Metsola added.

‘PN the biggest threat to Malta’s tax system’ – Labour

Reacting to the press conference, the Labour Party accused the PN of being “the biggest threat to Malta’s tax system, since, it said, “PN MEPs stood shoulder to shoulder with those who repeatedly attacked the country”.

It said that Metsola and fellow MEP David Casa had brought to Malta those who wanted it described as a tax haven.

The Labour Party said that its manifesto made it clear that it believed that tax matters should remain the competence of each individual country.

More in Europe 2019