EU Public & Regulatory Affairs

Weekly EU news: Monday 10 November - Friday 14 November 2014


Monday 10 November

Conclusions of last Friday's ECOFIN Council. The Council discussed a draft amendment to the EU parent-subsidiary directive aimed at stopping tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning by corporate groups. A large majority of member states were ready to support a compromise text proposed by the presidency (14531/1/14 REV 1). All expressed their commitment to work constructively towards an agreement at the Council meeting on 9 December 2014.

Conclusions of the Agriculture & Fisheries Council meeting.

  • The Council adopted a regulation aimed at improving market transparency for retail investors.The text covers packaged retail and insurance-based investment products (PRIIPs), specifically investment funds, structured deposits and life insurance policies with an investment element. The regulation requires key information documents to be drawn up for PRIIPs. It lays down uniform rules on the format and content of key information documents and on their provision to retail investors. Details, EC press release
  • The Council officially adopted new rules to facilitate damage claims by victims of antitrust violations. The new directive will harmonise and ensure the effective enforcement of antitrust damages rules within the EU, thereby allowing the victims of a cartel to receive full compensation for both the actual loss suffered and for lost profits. Details and EC Press release

Tuesday 11 November

DG Economic and Financial Affairs published:

  • Economic Papers n° 536: Adjusting the budget balance for the business cycle: the EU methodology.
  • Country Focus Issue 10/2014: Wage adjustment in Spain: slow, inefficient and unfair?
  • Country Focus Issue 11/2014: Do the Baltic States need to tax passenger cars more?

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete  gave a speech in Brussels: European Union: a Global Leader in Climate Action. He outlined the first concrete steps to implement the 2030 framework.:  Some of them:

  • On non-ETS targets: embark on detailed impact assessment work next year, on elements – like enhanced flexibility and the integration of the land and forestry sector into the mitigation framework – with a view to tabling a legal proposal soon enough.
  • On energy efficiency: propose priority sectors in which significant energy efficiency gains can be reaped, and ways to address them at EU level.
  • Renewable energy: come forward with supportive measures to ensure the achievement of the EU-level binding target of at least 27%.
  • Consider how to achieve a transparent and reliable governance system. It will be important to streamline reporting on energy and climate issues to avoid unnecessary administrative costs.
  • Improve the conditions for the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
  • Kick off before summer a wide debate on EC policies for emissions reductions in road transport.

Wednesday 12 November

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker appeared in person for the EP’s extraordinary debate on the fight against tax avoidance prompted by the recent revelation of secret deals granting preferential tax treatments to multinational companies in Luxembourg. Mr Juncker underlined that the tax rulings in Luxembourg were not illegal even though he admitted that "there probably was a certain amount of tax avoidance in Luxembourg, as in other EU countries. We find this everywhere in Europe because there is insufficient tax harmonisation in Europe", he explained. Press release. Commissioner Moscovici (responsible for Tax) addressed the EP on the ambitious European Commission’s agenda to fight against tax fraud tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. In particular, “in line with the mandate given to me by President Juncker, I will give high priority to advancing the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base proposal (CCCTB).This proposal is not a mere technical one. Far from it. The CCCTB could fundamentally change the corporate tax environment in Europe, ensuring a closer link between taxation and economic activity and shutting off major channels of avoidance.“ He also confirmed that the European Commission decided to further enhance tax transparency, including through more information exchange and enhanced transparency on tax rulings.

In a speech entitled An EU industrial policy fit for the 21st century, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elzbieta Bieñkowska addressed a number of areas where concrete measures are needed, with a focus on the internal market for services, public procurement, intellectual property, and a favourable business environment. The Commissioner also announced that she will launch specific initiatives in the automotive, chemicals, defense, construction and space sectors.

Thursday 13 November

IIn Bratislava, Energy Union Vice-President Maroš Šefcovic delivered a key note speech: Towards a more powerful EU: rebalancing the EU architecture. He said: “The objective is to break down silos and create synergies by steering and coordinating the work of a number of Commissioners in priority areas or projects such as jobs, growth, investment, a deeper and fairer EMU, a connected digital single market or a resilient Energy Union. Strong cooperation will be needed both within each project and also between projects. The major investment package under preparation, for instance, will rely extensively on the completion of the Energy Union. Not only will the focus of this package be notably on energy infrastructures, renewable energy and energy efficiency, but private investments will also need the right incentives through the completion of the single energy market and removal of remaining obstacles.

The European Central Bank published:

  • its Monthly Bulletin for November with an article on Early warning indicators for fiscal stress in European budgetary surveillance and one on The financial vulnerability of euro area households – evidence from the Eurosystem’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey.
  • Survey on the access to finance of small and medium-sized enterprises in the euro area - April 2014 to September 2014.

Friday 14 November

Statistics

  • In September 2014 compared with August 2014, seasonally adjusted industrial production rose by 0.6% in both the euro area (EA18) and the EU28. Details
  • Euro area annual inflation was 0.4% in October 2014, up from 0.3% in September. A year earlier the rate was 0.7%. EU.  annual inflation was 0.5% in October 2014, up from 0.4% in September. A year earlier the rate was 0.9%. Details
  • Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.3% in the EU28 during the third quarter of 2014, compared with the previous quarter. Details

Agenda of the European Commission.

The European Commission has published the non-confidential version of the decision taken on 11 June 2014 to open an in-depth investigation into transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Starbucks in The Netherlands. The decision is available under the case number SA.38374 on the competition website.