Malta to take up anti-tax avoidance package if December’s Ecofin fails to approve it

Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem says it is up to individual ministers to decide whether to accept invitations from the Panama Papers committee

Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna

Malta will be taking up the anti-tax avoidance package during its Presidency of the European Council, if a December meeting of Ecofin – the EU’s economic and financial affairs council – fails to approve the new proposals in the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive.

Addressing a media briefing alongside Dutch finance minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Malta’s finance minister Edward Scicluna said that, while “one hopes the proposals are approved before the end of the year”, Malta would be ready to take it up early next year.

The comment was delivered following questions made on the application of tax laws by EU member states, as the European Parliament’s Panama Papers committee is looking into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion affairs in the aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations.

Scicluna himself has told the committee that he will not attend a 7 December meeting to face questions from MEPs on Malta’s compliance to EU legislation on tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Moreover, it was hinted that the Council of Ministers would be opposing having ministers give answers before the committee. Creating further hurdles for the committee is that the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents has declined its request to send a delegation to visit Malta as part of its work programme.

Asked whether it was incumbent upon the finance minister to appear before the committee – especially during the Presidency – Dijsselbloem insisted that it was up to individual ministers to decide.

“It is up to parliament and the committee to set up a common work plan and to decide who they want to invite and it is up to the ministers to decide whether they want to accept the invitation,” he said.

“I think we have to work independently of the committee to fight tax evasion. during the Dutch presidency of Ecofin we reached an agreement on anti-tax avoidance and next month we will discuss the extension of the tax avoidance directive.”

The Eurogroup President insisted there was “broad consensus” and “strong push” to fight tax avoidance and they would continue doing that in the coming years”.

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