CORRUPTION AND FRAUD
Rapid Europa: “New EU rules which will improve Member States’ ability to assess and collect the taxes that they are due will enter into force on 1 January 2013. The Directive on Administrative Cooperation in the field of taxation lays the basis for stronger cooperation and greater information exchange between tax authorities in the EU. One of the key aspects of the Directive is that it brings an end to bank secrecy: one Member State cannot refuse to give information to another just because it is held by a financial institution. Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-Fraud and Audit, said: “These new rules will bring greater transparency, better information exchange and closer cooperation: fundamental tools for fighting tax evasion.” The Directive sets down practical and effective measures to improve administrative cooperation on tax matters. Common forms and procedures for exchanging information are provided, which will make the transmission of data between national authorities quicker and more efficient. Tax officials may be authorised to participate in administrative enquiries in another Member State. They will also be able to request that their tax documents and decisions are notified elsewhere in the EU. The Directive has a wide scope, covering all taxes except those already covered under specific EU legislation (i.e. VAT and excise duties).
Background More information on the Directive is available. For more information on the fight against tax fraud.
(Rapid Europa from December 20th): “Today, the EU Council of Ministers has adopted a European Commission proposal to make it easier for EU citizens living in another Member State to stand as candidates in the 2014 European Parliament elections. This follows an overwhelming vote by the European Parliament in favour of the proposal (618 votes in favour, 23 votes against and 14 abstentions) on 20 November (IP/12/1232). The new law will simplify the procedure (currently regulated by (Directive 93/109/EC) for EU citizens to stand as candidates for the European Parliament in another EU Member State. It is one the Commission’s initiatives to promote and facilitate participation in the European elections. “We need citizens to have a strong say in building a stronger political Union and taking part in the European elections is the most important way for citizens to make their voice heard in the EU,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “Any EU citizen has the right to vote or stand for election to the Parliament in the EU country in which they live. Our new rules will make it easier for citizens to make use of these rights. I’d like to thank both the Parliament and Council for helping to ensure that the new rules can enter in force in time before the European Parliament elections in 2014.” This initiative will be complemented by the work of the European institutions during the 2013 European Year of Citizens, which will help better inform citizens about their rights and prepare the ground for the next European elections in 2014.
Background Thanks to EU citizenship – which complements, but does not replace national citizenship – all nationals of the 27 EU Member States have a set of additional rights as EU citizens. These include the right to vote and stand in local and European elections in the EU country they live in. The European Commission is working to facilitate the use these rights. Already in 2006 it proposed changes to Directive 93/109/EC which sets out arrangements to enable EU citizens to make use of their right to vote or stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament in the EU Member State they live in. The Commission’s proposal would simplify the procedure for those candidates standing in another Member State than their own and would reform the mechanism to prevent double voting in European elections. Because Member States were unable to agree unanimously on the arrangements concerning double voting, negotiations on the proposal had been suspended in 2008. On the initiative of the Commission, discussions were re-launched in October 2011 focusing on the main aspect of the proposal: simplification of the procedures for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates. Namely, candidates would no longer be obliged to return to their home Member State to obtain a certificate stating that they are not deprived of their right to stand as a candidate. Instead, when applying to stand as a candidate in their Member State of residence they would only be required to provide a declaration in that sense and the burden of the proof would be on the Member State of residence’s electoral authority.
For more information European Commission – EU citizenship http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner: http://ec.europa.eu/reding
Alternative and Online Dispute Resolution soon to become a reality for European consumers Rapid Europa from December 28th: “Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, today welcomed the vote on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution (ADR-ODR) in the Internal Market and Consumers Committee. This vote confirms the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the two proposals put forward by the European Commission in 2011. Member States will start implementing the ADR/ODR rules after their final adoption by Parliament, in the second quarter of 2013. The rules on ADR will ensure that contractual disputes between consumers and traders are settled out of court through quality alternative dispute resolution entities. These will operate in all Member States and in all sectors, with the exception of health and higher education. The ODR Regulation will set up an EU-wide online platform for handling disputes between consumers and traders, arising from online transactions. The platform will link all the national alternative dispute resolution entities and will operate in all official EU languages. Traders will be required to provide consumers with adequate information on ADR and ODR. (…) Alternative Dispute Resolution MEMO/12/994 The ADR process is perceived by both consumers and traders to be simpler compared to court proceedings. More information: DG SANCO webpage on ADR/ODR: Solving your consumer disputes out of court IP/12/1381…”
Euobserver: “A chief of police in a border town in northeastern Greece says irregular migrants are no longer crossing into the country from its land border with Turkey. Barbed-wire fences, landmines, thermal night vision cameras and regular patrols are among the tools used to stop a phenomenon the Greek state considers a national security threat. Some 55,000 people were detected attempting to wade across the Evros River into Greece from Turkey in the region in 2011. The figures have now dropped to near zero, says Pashalis Syritoudis, director of police in the run-down Greek border village of Orestiadas. “In July 2012 we had 6,500 illegal migrants who passed the border. In August, we had only 1,800. In September, only 71 illegal immigrants, in October only 26 and now there are none,” he told EUobserver on 22 November. Orestiadas is six kilometres west of the Evros river on the Greek-Turkish border…”