Barroso: EU will have the most comprehensive tax information exchange system in the world

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso presented a statement at the G8 Pre-Summit press conference on June 17. After greeting the presentees, he went on:

“The European Union is coming to this summit to promote a fairer world. Fairness at home in the G8 countries. And fairness for people right around the globe.

Firstly, we want fairness by further opening trade between free and open economies. Trade is a vital engine for growth, jobs and development. This summit should give an unambiguous signal that it’s worth every effort to deepen our trade relations and strengthen global openness in terms of trade.

I am delighted that the European Union, based on a consensus of all Member States, has just agreed a broad mandate to start the negotiations with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Still today, together with President Obama we will give the go-ahead for the start of negotiations between the United States and the European Union. The European Commission will negotiate on behalf of all our 28 Member States. Our Partnership will be a true game changer for the global economy.

Secondly, this summit is about fairness in the way taxes are paid by individuals and by companies. Tax evasion and avoidance costs the EU Member States around 1 trillion Euro every year. The global bill is much higher. I expect this G8 Summit to give a powerful signal that we are ready to look for those who do not respect the rules of the game and hold them accountable.

And thirdly, we want fairness through greater transparency on land governance, extractive industries, open data. Citizens, in particular in resource-rich countries, have a right to get a better idea of what happens to their national wealth, to the revenues from their oil resources and forests, to know which amounts are paid by companies to governments – and so that they can control the dark channels of corruption. Knowing about it is a precondition for acting upon it and to allow good governance to flourish.

In all these areas, the European Union has a very good story to tell and is often pioneering the global agenda in these G8 Summit priorities. Let me just give a few examples:

Our bilateral trade agreements are not in contradiction with our multilateral ambitions and certainly do not replace our commitment to the World Trade Organization and the Doha Development Agenda. Indeed, they are a stepping stone towards further liberalising global trade and strengthening the multilateral trading system. We are fully engaged with our partners to conclude a WTO trade deal in Bali in December with trade facilitation at its core, delivering a huge positive impact for developing and least developed countries.

Other examples: Just last week the EU has agreed far-reaching binding legislation for transparency in extractive industries and forestry. This will help developing countries to stamp out corruption and better collect domestic revenues.

To further the G8 transparency agenda, the EU also engaged in new country partnerships with Colombia, Niger and South Sudan in the areas of extractives and land transparency.

Also last week, the European Union passed legislation to further open up public data because we believe that open data means opening business opportunities and creating jobs.

We are also the world’s largest donor for development assistance, with a specific emphasis on food security. I am happy to have the opportunity to discuss this with the international partners, namely our African friends.

I am proud in this context that the European Commission has just been awarded the Jacques Diouf prize of the World Food Organisation for our commitment to food security.

And last but not least, we are a driving force behind the new political momentum in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance. In Europe, we are leaving no stone unturned to see where taxes are paid and how much taxes are paid, by individuals and companies. In Europe and at global level, we want that everybody pays his fair share of taxes in a transparent way. I hope that bank secrecy and tax havens will soon belong to the past.

Just last week we have proposed a maximum extension of the scope for the automatic exchange of information among EU tax authorities. Let’s not forget that already since 2005 the European Member States have been exchanging information on taxes and finances under the EU Savings Tax Directive. That directive, together with its network of international agreements has been the most advanced international approach for the past 8 years. In our proposal for extending the scope for the automatic exchange of information we are now including most notably, dividends, capital gains and account balances. They will all be covered. As a result, the EU will have the most comprehensive tax information exchange system in the world. We want to wipe out already by 2015 the last white spots on the EU’s tax map.

We are convinced that there is a need to improve tax governance everywhere. This G8 Summit should foster a unity of purpose at the global level. We will fully support the work of the G8 UK Presidency, the OECD and the G20 in this regard.

To conclude, ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you that I am looking forward to open, frank, informal exchanges on these and other topics. This is my 9th G8 summit since Gleneagles, held in 2005 also under UK presidency. I am confident that like Gleneagles also this summit here in Lough Erne will provide important political impetus for global change towards global fairness, including for the poorest countries.

Let me finally congratulate the UK G8 presidency for the choice of the venue: Northern Ireland. The summit places on the global stage the efforts of the people and leaders of Northern Ireland – supported also by the European Union. Since 1995 the European Union has been actively supporting, also from a financial point of view, the peace efforts. This is a clear signal to the world that peace and reconciliation have returned to this most beautiful and hospitable part of Europe.

I thank you for your attention!”