Public Policy Bulletin, 13 May 2019

May 09, 2019

The UK look set to take part in the European Parliament elections and this means that they will return as many as 73 MEPs to Europe. This week we look at the tax policies contained in the political manifestos of some of the parties in the Parliament.

Northern Ireland elections

Voters will choose 73 MEPs from 12 multi-member regional constituencies in the UK. Three MEPs will be elected to represent Northern Ireland. There are 11 candidates in total in Northern Ireland representing 10 different parties.  You can read more about the candidates in Northern Ireland here.

Republic of Ireland elections

We covered this last month but a reminder that there are three constituencies in the South.  17 candidates will contest 4 seats in the Midlands-North-West constituency.  23 candidates will fight for 5 seats in the South constituency (the fifth elected MEP will not take their seat until the UK leaves the EU) while there will be 4 seats (the fourth elected MEP will remain in reserve until the UK leaves the EU) from 19 candidates in the Dublin constituency.

Tax policies of the European parties

Although domestic tax matters are generally a matter for individual member states and outside the remit of the European Parliament, MEPs can influence the European approach. To that end all of the parties have a tax agenda included in their manifestos. Digital tax measures, taxing everyone fairly, and clamping down on tax evasion and avoidance by large corporations seem to be the common tax themes emerging from many of the European parties.  It’s important to remember that the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) and the European Council do regularly debate tax matters and EU tax policy requires unanimity among member states on any EU tax proposals.

The EPP – Group of the European People’s Party

The EPP, a large centre-right party, would like to see everyone taxed fairly. It wants to protect the fairness and transparency of the European tax system by working closely with member states and the OECD to fight tax evasion and eliminate tax havens.

The party wants to stop large corporations getting tax breaks and taking advantage of loopholes that are not available to every taxpayer.

The party would like to introduce a Digital Fair Tax and ensure that digital companies pay a fair share in financing Europe’s digital infrastructure.

Read the party’s manifesto.

The S&D – Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

The S&D, a centre-left party, will continue its fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning and proposes that profits are taxed where they are generated.  

The party supports a common European approach to ensure a proper level of effective taxation. The party believes that every citizen and every company must make a fair contribution to society by respecting their tax obligations.

In terms of the environment, the party wants the EU to become a leader in renewable energies and become climate-neutral by 2050.  This means that CO2 emissions must be reduced to a minimum and any remaining CO2 emissions are compensated with climate protection measures. The party believes that CO2 emissions should be taxed across the EU fairly. People who pollute should pay more taxes. 

Read the party’s manifesto.

ALDE – Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

The only tax policy measures contained within centrist party ALDE’s manifesto relate to protecting the environment.   The party wants the EU to become a carbon neutral economy and wants a single European energy market to be completed. 

The party wants to see an end of the obsolete fuel tax exemptions for international aviation by updating the Chicago Convention.  The Convention currently allows all aviation fuel used in Europe to be tax exempt.   The Convention does not prohibit the taxation of aviation fuel; rather it disallows the taxation of fuel already on board an arriving aircraft.

Read the party’s manifesto.

The European Greens

The Greens, a centre-left party believe that everybody must pay their fair share in taxes because corporate tax evasion and corporate tax avoidance undermine democracy.

The party pledges to develop tax regimes that do not continue to privilege large multinational corporations and wealthy individuals. It also wants to see an end to unfair tax competition between member states.  The party wants to see a strong common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) for large companies and a minimum corporate tax rate.  It believes that these measures would reduce harmful competition between Member States.

The party wants to introduce a digital tax in Europe as well as managing taxation on crypto currencies. It wants to introduce stronger requirements for multinational companies to report publicly where they pay taxes. 

The party also wants Europe to require Member States to raise taxes on fossil fuels and also to consider environmental taxes on aviation travel and plastics at European level.

Read the party’s manifesto.

Next week we will look in more detail at the candidates in Ireland and Northern Ireland.