Opening the meeting, the ACF Trade Council members discussed the state of play concerning the social dialogue in their home countries, which was in many cases weakened during the recent economic and financial crisis. With regards to social dialogue at the EU-level, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger reported that CESI’s work in the sectoral social dialogue committee ‘Central government administrations’ is evolving continually. In this context, he noted above all CESI’s efforts to have central administration staff covered by the EU legislation on information and consultation of workers – which to the day only covers private sector workers – and specifically referred to the recent adoption of a joint committee response to a current social partner consultation by the European Commission on a consolidation of the three existing EU directives on information and consultation of workers and to the current parallel social dialogue committee negotiations on a legally binding agreement which extends the EU legislation on information and consultation of workers to central administration employees.
Investments in tax administrations at the heart of the debate
The meeting’s keynote presentation was given by Reinhard Biebel from the European Commission’s DG TAXUD on the European Commission’s recently published Tax Transparency Package. The presentation set the stage for a controversial discussion on current challenges relating to tax transparency and tax avoidance and evasion in Europe and led to a resolution being worked out which lays out a set of practical recommendations on how to improve the transparency of Europe’s current tax systems and effectively fight tax fraud and tax evasion in the EU Member States. Among others, the resolution calls for a boosted and revamped cooperation among the EU Member States in tax-related matters such as:
• automatic exchanges of information;
• an extension of country-by-country reporting obligations;
• more effective controlling;
• the creation and enforcement of uniform sanctions for illegal practices; and
• an increase in the investment in tax administrations, which have during the last years often suffered from drastic cuts in staff and budgetary support.
Commenting on the resolution, which still needs to be rubber-stamped by CESI’s Presidium, CESI General Secretary Klaus Heeger said: “Investing in the human resources of the national tax administrations is maybe the most important point mentioned in the resolution. The recent economic and financial crisis has led to budgetary cuts many national tax authorities. Employees were laid off and working conditions deteriorated. This is unacceptable, given the fact that tax administrators and inspectors actually help to improve the state’s revenues by making sure that all due taxes are being collected.”
During the ACF Trade Council meeting, it was also discussed how to deal with emerging levels of violence in public services and how to assess new trends, dangers and consequences of productivity bonuses for employees in central administrations. It was concluded that work on these topics needs to be continued.