EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager takes office and makes a statement on tax State aid investigations
After the approval vote of the European Parliament on 22 October, the new European Commission took up office on 1 November. On November 5, the new Commission under the lead of its President Jean-Claude Juncker held its first meeting in Brussels. The Commission consists of political heavy-weights including 9 former Prime Ministers or Deputy Prime Ministers, 19 former Ministers, 7 returning Commissioners and 8 former Members of the European Parliament, all with solid economic and finance background, and for some of them with extensive foreign relations experience. For more information, see http://ec.europa.eu/news/2014/11/20141105_en.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019_en.
Margrethe Vestager is the new Commissioner for Competition. For more information on her responsibilities, Project Teams she is a member of, President Juncker’s Mission Letter to Ms Vestager and European Parliament hearings, see her website http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/vestager_en.
On 6 November, Ms Vestager made a statement on tax State aid investigations. The statement 14/1480 provides as follows:
“Tax rulings as such are common practice in Member States.
However, if in a tax ruling, the tax authorities of a Member State accept that a tax base of a specific company is calculated in a favourable way which does not correspond to market conditions, it may give to the company a more favourable treatment than what other companies would normally get under the country's tax rules, and this could constitute State aid.
The Commission is already looking at Member States' tax rulings practice that could favour some companies: the Commission has recently opened formal investigation procedures on this area in Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and has sent information requests to other Member States.
For Luxembourg the two on-going investigations concern the tax rulings of Amazon and Fiat Finance & Trade (FFT). I cannot comment on on-going investigation cases as we cannot prejudge the outcome of the investigations.
The Commission is in close cooperation with the Luxembourg authorities to proceed in a constructive and cooperative manner in this area.
We have not seen all the information published yesterday, and we have at this stage not yet formed an opinion about these rulings and a possible formal follow-up by the Commission.
On a more general note, my services have asked information from Luxembourg and from other countries and we will be vigilant to enforce state aid control in fair and justified manner.”
This statement should be seen in light of the recently opened investigations on State aid and tax rulings, see for example:
1. Commission investigates transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Amazon in Luxembourg http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1105_en.htm
2. State aid: Commission extends in-depth investigation into Gibraltar corporate tax regime to include tax rulings practice http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1073_en.htm