The EESC believes that the fight against terrorism and its financing and efforts to combat money laundering and other related forms of economic crime should be permanent EU policy priorities. These efforts should be linked more closely with the efforts needed to combat tax fraud and tax avoidance. Therefore, the EESC considers creating public national registers of the beneficial owners of bank accounts, businesses, trusts and transactions, and access to them by obliged entities, to be a priority. Furthermore, all obligations laid down in the Anti Money Laundering Directive should be extended to all territories or jurisdictions whose sovereignty resides with the Member States. And free trade and economic partnership agreements should include a chapter on measures to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing, tax fraud and tax avoidance.
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Opinions in the spotlight
For the EESC it is essential that the Commission take further action to ensure that all e-retailers and consumers, and particularly individuals and SMEs in remote areas, can finally benefit from cross-border parcel delivery services that are accessible, high quality and affordable, fearing that the proposed measures not be enough and do little to encourage the cross-border parcel delivery services concerned to charge reasonable tariffs. Therefore the EESC regrets that the Commission is shelving any more stringent measures until the end of 2018, calling on the Commission to take the same approach it took to roaming charges in mobile communications.
While supporting the pilot project to set up a financial expertise centre for consumers and end-users of financial services, the EESC feels it would be useful to call for a number of conditions to be met: legitimacy, financial independence, transparency and accountability, public visibility, as well as balance between financial sector professionals and users.
The proposal from the Commission is a welcomed step further in the creation of a Digital Single Market, but it's not a game-changer. More ambitious and well-defined proposals for a Digital Single Market in favour of consumers and companies, should be put forward.
Justified geo-blocking resulting from different Member States' industrial policies and diverging legislation is also damaging the development of SMEs and scale-ups operating in Europe. The EU should focus equally on the remaining obstacles in the Single Market that discourage or hamper traders from selling on-line and/or off-line across borders.
An efficient reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is essential. While the EESC approves of the proposal to improve and speed up the determination of Member State responsible for examining an asylum application, it calls for including protective provisions on procedural issues, individual treatment of applications, maintenance of discretionary clauses, maintenance of the deadline for the cessation of obligation for a Member State to assume responsibility and the rights of applicants.
The EESC welcomes the "Action Plan on VAT", and calls for a definitive VAT system that is clear, consistent, robust and comprehensive, as well as proportionate and future-proof. The Committee welcomes the strong focus on closing the VAT gap and tackling the susceptibility of VAT to fraud. There should be results delivered without delay, including by improving cooperation between tax administrations. “Bona fide” enterprises should be protected and no new excessive measures should be imposed on them. The future system of reduced rates must combine flexibility and legal certainty, be transparent, and for the sake of simplicity the number of reduced rates and exemptions must be limited.
The EESC appreciates the coherent and ambitious strategic vision in industrial policy being displayed in the Communication and its focus on four key issues: (1) technologies and platforms; (2) standards and reference architectures; (3) geographic cohesion, embodied in a network of regional Innovation Hubs; (4) skills at all levels.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) warns against granting China market economy status (MES) and calls on the European institutions to promote fair international competition and actively defend European jobs and European values with efficient trade defence instruments (TDIs). In its opinion, adopted at its 514th plenary session on 14th July, the EESC points to the disastrous impact a possible granting of MES to China would have on Europe's industry and consequently on Europe's labour market. The EESC insists on China's fulfilment of the five EU criteria for achieving the MES.