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The Interparliamentary Conference on SECG Calls for Sustainability and Fairness in Budget and Taxation Matters

Austrian Parliament, 19 September 2018

The Two-Day Conference in the Context of the Parliamentary Dimension of the Austrian EU Presidency

Vienna (PK) – The implementation of a fiscal policy framework, innovation and education as drivers for a competitive Europe, combating tax evasion and the challenge of digitalisation were the four central themes of the Interparliamentary Conference on SECG, held at the Austria Center Vienna on 17 and 18 September 2018 as part of the Parliamentary Dimension of the Austrian EU Presidency. The discussions focused on the demands for a sustainable budget policy, a deepening of the Digital Single Market and more overall fairness in European tax systems.

Kopf warned against protectionism, Schramböck urged a deepening of the Digital Single Market

Chairing the conference in his capacity as Chair of the Austrian National Council’s Finance Committee, Karlheinz Kopf called in his welcoming address for open markets and expressed criticism of the current protectionist tendencies prevalent in some states. He also spoke out in favour of tax fairness and said that no EU country could tackle this task on its own. Austrian Economic Affairs Minister Margarete Schramböck underlined the need for both innovation and digitisation, and advocated a further deepening of the Digital Single Market and a reindustrialisation of Europe.

Thygesen and Haber for clear, yet flexible fiscal rules

In the discussion on the EU's fiscal policy framework, Niels Thygesen, Chair of the European Fiscal Board, called for the positive economic situation at present to be used as a window of opportunity to create a sustainable budget policy. Concurring with Gottfried Haber, Chairman of the Austrian Fiscal Advisory Council, he also advocated clear, yet flexible rules that would give the individual Member States the necessary leeway to carry out cyclical corrections. Austrian MEP Othmar Karas urged a further expansion of the European Semester in order to better coordinate economic, financial and fiscal policies among the individual Member States.

Tsanova: Europe must boost innovation and education

Ilyana Tsanova, Deputy Managing Director of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, stressed that a competitive Europe needs investment, innovation and education; she also characterised the financing of new, innovative companies in particular as a major challenge. In his statement, MEP Nils Torvalds spoke of an investment gap in Europe, emphasising the necessity of levelling the playing field between more and less-favoured regions.

Moscovici and Fuchs supported tax system fairness

EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici called for fair and equitable tax systems, setting the tone for the debate on combating tax evasion. The call was echoed by Austrian State Secretary Hubert Fuchs. Both speakers urged joint solutions, for example in the areas of digital taxation and the corporate tax base, and stated that corporate profits should be taxed where they were actually generated. For Hans Michelbach, deputy chair of the conference, it was clear that Europe could only solve these challenges together.

Angelova: Digitalisation is forcing education to undergo a paradigm shift

Finally, Milena Angelova, Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee, called for a paradigm shift in education in response to digitalisation. Ms. Angelova spoke out in favour of a job-training campaign that would leave no one behind. In her keynote speech MEP Maria Joao Rodrigues said that we must not allow the digitalisation of the workplace to cause a portion of the workforce to fall through the cracks of the social system. (End)

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