On Tuesday, November 15th, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) released its new report, titled “Four ways to tackle international tax competition“. Concomitantly, ICRICT Commissioner Joseph E. Stiglitz and former Chairman of the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Mark Pieth published their recommendations in the report “Overcoming the Shadow Economy”.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a partner of both initiative, organized several events in Brussels with ICRICT, Mark Pieth and a number of commissioners.
The experts’ seminar “Tackling Tax Competition: the Role of the EU” gathered ICRICT Commissioners, Member State Representatives, Members of Parliament, Commission representatives, Civil Society organizations and Trade Unions. Chaired by José Antonio Ocampo, Professor at Columbia University and ICRICT Chair as well as Thomas Mättig, Coordinator of “Dialogue on Globalization” within FES, the seminar also featured other ICRICT Commissioners: Eva Joly, who presented the report issued by the European Greens a week earlier, on BASF’s tax practices, “Toxic Tax Deals”; Edmund Fitzgerald from Oxford University; and Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona who brilliantly addressed the link between Human Rights and tax justice. Furthermore, the seminar discussed the global implications of proposed EU tax reforms, including the recently released CCTB proposal, and considered what other measures might be needed to curb international tax competition and corporate tax abuses, with inputs from stakeholders and partners as significant as Public Services International (see PSI’s position here), South Center, OXFAM, Tax Justice Network, ActionAid, Members of the European Parliament and Commission and the Federation of International Accountants. Global Alliance for Tax Justice’s regional member Eurodad was represented by Tove Maria Ryding, who methodically studied the evolution of EU tax policy. “Watch out for the EU communication team, they were brilliant at presenting a “tax transparency directive” that had no transparency, and are now bragging with a common consolidated tax base… that has no consolidation!”, Ryding concluded.
GATJ Chair Dereje Alemayehu questioned “The role of the state in finding solutions is clear… but also in creating the problem: why is the state serving the 1% when it is not sustainable for itself?”. “Tax incentives do not attract good economy: they bring scavengers instead of investors!”, Alemayehu warned.
On the eve of this seminar, a press conference gathered media from Switzerland, Europarl TV, EFE Spain, The Observer, etc. A public conference followed, with two panels including Finance Watch, European MEPs, and a repeated occasion for Joseph Stiglitz and Mark Pieth to explain why they left the Panama Papers commission this summer.
Commissioners also met with European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (you can read Prof. Stiglitz’s written answers in preparation of his hearing here), supported by the GUE/GNL European Parliament group.
Current news obviously caught up with the many meetings the commissioners had, whether with media, specialists or European Commission panel hearings: “Now that the United States has just elected a chief evader, Europe is the only hope for reforming the tax system towards real tax justice”, Joseph Stiglitz repeatedly pointed. Furthermore, Stiglitz demonstrated how “tax havens helped get likes of Donald Trump elected”, as The Guardian reports.