EU development partnerships and the challenge posed by international tax agreements

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EESC opinion: EU development partnerships and the challenge posed by international tax agreements

Key points:

  • The EESC supports a development policy that sees development as a process carried out between countries on equal terms, based on respect and sovereign decisions. Financing and implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed at United Nations (UN) level requires globally coordinated efforts. The EESC would point out that the UN's Economic and Social Council could play an even stronger role as a suitable forum for dealing with tax matters. This would ensure both the gearing of Agenda 2030 to the SDGs and the participation of all countries on an equal footing.
  • The EESC warmly welcomes the fact that the European Union (EU) and its Member States have made considerable efforts in the context of international reform to address the weaknesses of the international tax system. These efforts are welcome and need to be supported and implemented effectively and then subject to regular monitoring.
  • The EESC calls for coherence to be ensured between Member States' international taxation policies and the objectives of development policies, so as to avoid conflicts between individual countries' taxation policies and joint development priorities.
  • The EESC has been supportive of private investment fostering development, when such development is in line with the SDGs and when basic economic, environmental and social rights, core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions and the Decent Work Agenda are upheld.
  • The EESC notes that the EU and its Member States, in the New European Consensus on Development, have committed themselves to cooperating with partner countries in making progressive taxation, anti-corruption measures and redistributive policies more widespread, as well as combating illicit financial flows. Taxation policy should, however, be a more important element of European development policy. The EESC welcomes the European Commission's commitment to regional forums and civil society organisations operating in the area of taxation in developing countries. Civil society organisations in these countries have a monitoring and supporting role to play, including in tax matters, and should therefore be more involved and be given more support. Support for appropriate tax capacity-building measures, including peer learning and South-South cooperation, would have a lasting impact on development projects.
  • The EESC recommends that good tax governance clauses be enshrined in all relevant agreements between the EU and third countries and regions in order to promote sustainable development.
  • The EESC recommends that, when new and revised free trade agreements are being concluded between the EU and developing countries, the opportunity be taken to analyse bilateral tax agreements as well.