Wednesday, May 07, 2003
The next big battleground is tax - 7th May 2003, 23.32

Just a reminder that the European Convention will soon be debating the harmonisation of taxes and fiscal policy. Expect plenty of obfuscation on the parts of the British and the Irish as they concede under the issues of evasion and fraud.

John Bruton, an Irish member of the 12-member praesidium, told Reuters he did not expect Dublin and London to back down, whatever the pressure from the Convention and other EU states. "If we have qualified majority voting on this we would end up politicising the decisions," he said. "'Unfair competition' is a very subjective concept." "At the end of the day, you will only get this into the new (EU) treaty if there is unanimity and you won't get unanimity on this issue," said Bruton, a former Irish prime minister. He said single market concerns were best tackled by beefing up the competition rules administered by the European Commission, the EU's executive body. Meyer-Landrut said the Convention must distinguish between the politically sensitive issue of "unfair" tax competition and the broader questions of fighting tax evasion and fraud. "It would be a shame if we threw out (qualified majority voting on tackling fraud and evasion) because people see red on hearing the word 'tax'," he said.

Giscard D'Estaing is on record as wishing to end a national veto on taxation.


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