Malta’s continued belief that the European Union Member States’ competences in the area of taxation should be safeguarded by maintaining consensus-based decision-making processes within the EU was on top of the agenda during a bilateral meeting between Finance Minister, Prof. Edward Scicluna and European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici. The meeting was held on Friday 15 January 2016 in Brussels.
Voicing Malta’s readiness to engage in discussions on taxation issues, while keeping in mind that certain matters concerning its national interest will need to be safeguarded, Minister Scicluna said that new proposals in this field need to respect the EU’s Treaties.
“We do have concerns on the appropriateness of a single set of rules for all within the EU,” Minister Scicluna told Commissioner Moscovici. “In our view, a one-size-fits-all approach is not desirable. It is in this spirit that we insisted on the inclusion of a reference to ‘flexibility’ in the Council Conclusions in December, meaning that Member States have officially endorsed Malta’s position.”
Prof. Scicluna noted that different Member States face different economic circumstances, and that taxation is an economic tool that individual countries use to cater for such different circumstances. This basically constitutes Malta’s objection to harmonisation in the tax area and why the island considers flexibility to be crucial in line with what was agreed by the Council of the European Union in December. In this light, the Minister reiterated Malta’s position on retaining a tax system that allows sufficient latitude to attract economic activity. The Minister added that lower taxation – when compared to other jurisdictions – in itself should not be considered to be abusive, harmful or unfair.
While in Brussels, Minsiter Scicluna also attended a meeting of the Eurogroup on 14 January as well as a ministerial meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council on 15 January.
Minister Scicluna was accompanied at the meetings by Malta’s Permanent Representative to the EU, Ms Marlene Bonnici, the Finance Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Alfred Camilleri, the Inland Revenue Department’s Director General (Legal & International), Mr Aldo Farrugia, the Finance Ministry’s Chief of Staff, Ms Tania Brown, and Mr Andre Gialanze, Fiscal and State Aid Attache’ within the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU.