EU leaders commit to step up fight against tax evasion

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After a snap EU Summit in Brussels on Wednesday, EU leaders committed to seeking EU-wide measures to tackle tax evasion and reduce bank secrecy.

Europe's leaders also pushed for proposals on sharing bank information, which would make tax fraud easier to spot. Austria, which had been a strong opponent, agreed to support the proposal.

EU Council president Herman van Rompuy insisted that tax harmonisation across the EU was not on the cards.

'We're not talking about tax harmonisation, but about jointly fighting despicable practices like deliberate tax evasion. So I am pleased that today's European Council managed to unblock a number of frozen files (…) The Union is now in a position to start negotiating straight away with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino to ensure these countries apply EU standards', said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

But MEPs criticized the Council for failing to reach any concrete conclusions on tax evasion, which accounts for €1 trillion annually. The European Parliament called on Tuesday for a pan-European blacklist of tax havens.

"I could answer you, no conclusions at all. I read them again and again, I don't find anything but an acknowledgment by the Council of the European Commission's proposals. (…) I would at least have expected from the Council an endorsement of these measures as well as ownership of these measures by the Council.", said Belgian Green MEP Philippe Lamberts.

Meanwhile, EU leaders also held a two and a half hour discussion on energy aimed at lowering prices and boosting the Union’s industrial competitiveness. NO major decisions were taken.

'The reality is that the global energy landscape is changing very quickly and not in Europe’s favour. But we should not be resigned to that. I really welcome the fact that there was a support for Commission approach for what I called a NO REGRETS scenario, with action in five areas. One, complete the internal energy market. Two, invest in innovation and infrastructure. Three, commit to greater energy efficiency. Four, exploit renewable sources more cheaply. Five, diversify supplies', said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso

The next EU Summit will be held at the end of June. 

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