On April 4, 2015 the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (TAXE 2) had an interesting exchange of views with Commissioner Vestager. Furthermore TAXE 2 also exchanged views with representatives of the Deutsche Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. As could be expected members of TAXE 2 from time to time referred to the Panama Papers that the world became aware of a day before the exchange of views was held. The Panama Papers however did not dominate the exchange of views.
For us, being not too familiar with illegal state aid procedures, one of the most interesting remarks was made by Commissioner Vestager. Commissioner Vestager stated that appealing against a decision of the European Commission that a certain agreement/ruling constitutes illegal state aid, does not suspend the recovering of the illegal state aid given. According to Ms Vestager member states have to start recovering the ‘illegal state aid’ immediately after it is informed about the decision of the European Commission. If an appeal is filed against the decision of the European Commission, the ‘illegal state aid’ recovered is than put in escrow until the Court of Justice of the European Union has judged on the case. Depending on said judgement the escrow account is then either released in favour of the taxpayer or in favour of the country that was ordered to recover the ‘illegal state aid’. In this respect Commssioner Vestager mentioned that procedure described above was also followed in Luxembourg in the case of Fiat Finance and Trade (FTT).
At the end of the meeting a member of the European Parliament asked the representatives of the 2 banks why they actually came and whether their answers would have differed if the meeting would have been held in camera. According to this member of the European Parliament the representatives did not provide any information that was not already available via journalists. Both representatives stated that their answers would not have been different if the meeting was held in camera.
Click here to be forwarded to the webpage of EPTV where a video of the meeting is available.
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