The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive plan of EU-wide taxation and customs measures that would help the EU to achieve its Lisbon objectives. The plan lists existing and forthcoming Commission taxation and customs initiatives aimed at reducing compliance costs and red tape; helping Member States to maintain stable revenue streams; generating more competition in the markets; boosting trade; and encouraging research and development. The measures proposed are not intended to change the structure of Member States' tax systems or to impinge on their national fiscal sovereignty. Instead they are simply aimed at reducing the negative effects which co-existing national tax systems can have on market integration.
"The right taxation and customs policies can contribute to raising the efficiency of EU economies and the competitiveness of EU companies" said EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács. "With globalisation and increasing cross-border activity, a Community approach on some tax and customs issues would be of considerable benefit to business and trade."
The Commission's Communication presents key Community taxation and customs measures that would contribute to the structural adjustment needed in our economies in order to fulfil the Lisbon strategy. At present, several aspects of the functioning of the 25 national tax systems prevent the advantages of a single market from being fully exploited and impose unnecessary extra costs on EU businesses. In addition European companies are facing an increasing number of international challenges and measures need to be taken in the customs area to improve the international competitiveness of EU firms. Furthermore, an attractive tax regime for investment in research and development (R&D) and environmentally-friendly measures are essential to promote sustainable economic growth. The Commission will, therefore, present a range of actions over the next 4 years that will be designed to pursue these goals. The most significant of these are:
- proposals to modernise the Customs Code and promoting a better use of information technology in the customs area;
- a proposal to allow companies to use a single basis of assessment for corporate tax for all their EU-wide activities (see IP/03/1593),
- proposals to modernise VAT rules particularly the current VAT treatment of financial services, in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs, and of public authorities, in order to ensure a level playing field with the private sector;
- a Communication on ways of combating tax fraud in the EU;
- A Communication on R&D tax incentives that will set out the key EU legal conditions, highlight existing best practices and, where appropriate, set out the political message;
The Commission also intends to continue pressing for progress on tax and customs actions already launched which are also key to meeting the Lisbon agenda. These are the initiatives to: simplify VAT compliance obligations (see IP/04/654), change the place of taxation of services for VAT purposes so as to reduce compliance burdens and eliminate distortions (see IP/05/997), re-structure Member States' passenger car tax systems (see IP/05/839) and combat counterfeiting (see IP/05/1247).
See also Annex.
For the Commission Communication "The Contribution of Taxation and Customs Policies to the Lisbon Strategy", see:
For the Lisbon Strategy see:
Lisbon Strategy: Key Taxation and Custom Policy Measures
Making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work
Knowledge and innovation for growth
1. Extending and deepening the internal market
1. Increasing and improving investment in R&D
A Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base for EU businesses (2008);
Simplifying the tax environment and creating a level playing field:
VAT compliance obligation: one stop shop, (2004); home state taxation, (2005); VAT rules international services and financial services (2005), (2006); VAT public bodies, (2006);
Targeted measures to remove cross-border tax barriers faced by EU businesses:
cross-border loss relief, (2006); transfer pricing, (2005); capital duty, (2006);
A new strategy for car taxation (2005);
Reducing distortions created through tax fraud and tax evasion (2006).
A Communication providing guidance on R&D tax incentives (2006).
2. Ensuring open and competitive markets inside and outside Europe
2. Facilitating the sustainable use of resources
A strategy against counterfeiting (2005);
Improving customs legislation with a view to promoting e-Customs (2005).
Energy, transport and Environment-related taxes:
taxation of commercial diesel, (2005); energy taxation, (2006); car taxation, (2005).
3. Improving European and national legislation
Modernising VAT rules (2005).