* EU presidency calls for slower corporate tax reform
* Document says reforms under way could damage EU economy
* Tax transparency could increase disputes - Malta
* EU's Moscovici insists that pace of reforms must be rapid
By Francesco Guarascio and Jan Strupczewski
VALLETTA, April 7 Malta's presidency of the
European Union said on Friday the bloc should slow down its
drive against corporate tax avoidance because it might hurt
Europe's economy by increasing legal uncertainty.
Following recent revelations, such as the Panama Papers, of
tax evasion and reduction by big corporations and wealthy
individuals, the European Commission has made several
legislative proposals to close legal loopholes but some of the
most ambitious plans have yet to be approved by EU states.
In a paper to be discussed by EU finance ministers in
Valletta on Friday and Saturday, Malta, which holds the rotating
EU chair until July, said the proposed reforms would increase
uncertainty, harming international investment and trade.
Malta and other smaller EU states with low tax regimes have
repeatedly showed caution in the push for reform, fearing
multinationals headquartered in their territory may leave.
The paper, seen by Reuters, said, "a certain amount of time
is needed in order to properly formulate, assimilate and apply
It also argued that the EU should align the pace of its
reforms to changes at international level to avoid losing
competitiveness. Moves at global level are notoriously slow on
But the EU commissioner for tax policies, Pierre Moscovici,
told Reuters that reforms should continue at a "rapid pace".
"EU citizens can no longer accept that multinationals don't
pay taxes or pay less than they should," he said.
The Commission is also trying to tackle tax avoidance by
increasing tax transparency, which Malta said could lead to more
tax disputes and increase legal uncertainty.
Moscovici countered that. "Legal certainty will come from
common rules across the EU to tackle frauds," he said, noting
that "this should not be used as a political alibi to stop our
In the paper, Malta also called for an "enhanced" use of
regulated tax rulings, which allow large companies to settle
their tax bills in advance, a practice used by several
multinationals to obtain sweetheart concessions in EU countries.
Among companies already sanctioned for such deals, the
Commission has asked Apple to pay $14 billion to
Ireland for tax skipped thanks to a generous deal with Dublin.
Amazon.com and McDonald's also face
Commission investigation over taxes in Luxembourg, while
Starbucks Corp has been ordered to pay up to 30 million
euros ($33 million) in back-taxes to the Dutch state.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)