Today, on 14 November, Estonian Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas will represent the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU at the plenary session of European Parliament in Strasbourg, where discussions will be held on matters pertaining to the Paradise Papers database of financial documents, the situation regarding Rule of Law Dialogue with Malta, and preparations for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit taking place next week.
The recently leaked Paradise Papers, which contain around 13.4 million documents related to tax havens, have returned the topic of tax optimisation to the spotlight. The discussion in European Parliament focused on the need to supplement tax-related legislation to avoid tax avoidance and strengthening tax-related cooperation between member states.
“The disclosure of documents by investigative journalists is beneficial to us all as it draws attention to evasion and increases awareness as well as the understanding that scheming in regard to taxes is unethical and unfair,” said Maasikas.
Maasikas noted that proposals have been made in cooperation between the Council of the EU and the Commission to supplement tax legislation – for instance, the money laundering prevention regulation – and work on various tax-related legislative acts is now under way, such as taxation of the digital economy and an e-commerce VAT package. The last of these is expected to be approved by finance ministers be approved at the next ECOFIN Council meeting in early December.
In speaking about Rule of Law Dialogue in Malta and the importance of freedom of the press, Maasikas said that member states and the EU in general should think about how to protect freedom of speech and cope with crises better. With regard to the killing of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maasikas said Malta had responded quickly and decisively, involving the FBI, Europol and Dutch and Italian and experts in the investigation. He said other Member States were prepared to contribute in any way they could.
This evening, Maasika will also speak in his capacity as Presidency representative at the discussion of the upcoming EaP summit on 24 November. “One of the goals of the Estonian Presidency has been to highlight the importance of EaP for the EU. In October, Tallinn hosted the civil society and business forum and the summit in Brussels in late November sends a strong message to EaP countries that the cooperation is appreciated and trusted.”
Tomorrow, Maasikas will speak on behalf of the Council on the Rule of Law dialogue with Poland and possibilities for assisting refugees in the winter period. He will also sign eight EU legal acts. A longer discussion will pertain to the centenary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and its consequences.
Direct link to the European Parliament livecast: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/plenary?ms=1510653600, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/plenary
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