EU tax policy debate: reform for voting system

EU tax policy debate
© iStock/Nuthawut Somsuk

The European Commission has launched an EU tax policy debate focusing on reforming the decision making process in Member States.

In a communication published yesterday, the Commission proposes a gradual process of transition towards qualified majority voting (QMV), which would allow taxation measures to pass with the approval of a majority of Member States. Under the current system, decision making on matters pertaining to EU tax policy debate requires a unanimous verdict by Member States, which is often difficult to achieve.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who has called for a move to qualified majority voting in EU tax policy debate in his recent State of the Union addresses, said: “Our increasingly globalised economies need modern and ambitious tax systems. I remain strongly in favour of moving to qualified majority voting and a stronger voice for the European Parliament on the common future of taxation in our Union.”

Many other areas of EU policy already rely on qualified majority voting; and implementing the system is projected to allow Member States to reach democratic compromises more quickly and reliably in EU tax policy debate. The European Parliament, which currently only holds a consultative role in these matters, would be accorded more concrete input, boosting democratic representation and accountability.

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “The EU has had a role in taxation policy since the origins of the Community six decades ago. Yet if unanimity in this area made sense in the 1950s, with six Member States, it no longer makes sense today. The unanimity rule in EU tax policy debate increasingly appears as politically anachronistic, legally problematic and economically counterproductive. I am fully aware of how sensitive an issue this is, but that cannot mean that the discussion is off limits; so let’s begin this debate today.”

The Commission has called on EU Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders to engage in a productive EU tax policy debate on QMV and to devise a reasonable timeframe for its implementation.

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