Fabian Demicoli

2 Farrugia reports adopted as EESC’s

Vince Farrugia, European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Maltese Employers representative, has this week participated in the EESC Plenary Session where two important papers for which he was Rapporteur were adopted as EESC papers.

 

The first Report on e-procurement based on the European Commission (EC) consultation taking the form of a Green Paper which seeks the views of interested parties on how the EU can help Member States to speed up and facilitate the procurement process. E-procurement refers to the use of electronic communication and transaction processing by government institutions and other public sector organisations when buying supplies and services or tendering public works.

In his paper Mr Farrugia makes a number of conclusions and recommendations to the  EC. Implementation of an inter-European e-procurement framework  is a cornerstone for the proper functioning of commerce within the internal market given the importance of public procurement vis-à-vis the GDP of each Member State.

The approach whereby every Member State adopted its own time-frame vis-à-vis e-procurement implementation failed to meet the desired results and instead led to further distancing from the desired objective of an agreed unified system. It is now of paramount importance for the EC to adopt strong and effective leadership to achieve an integrated, inter-operable, and business/technology standardised e-procurement framework across Member States. This would ensure that while no activity by any individual Member State is affected that further endangers the achievement of the desirable target, action is actually implemented that furthers the implementation process over an agreed time-frame of an approved cohesion approach.

All calls for public procurement in Member States – below as well as above the threshold – are published in the portal of the national contracting authority. SMEs would be assisted either through direct capacity building initiatives, setting up of e‑procurement Facilitating Support Centres by national, regional contracting authorities or constituted bodies representing SMEs through national and EU financing – to ensure that SMEs and micro-enterprises embrace and leverage e‑procurement.

Following unanimous approval by the section this paper yesterday achieved formal approval when it went straight to the vote.

The second paper adopted concerned the EC Communication which outlines the most serious tax problems that EU citizens face in cross-border situations and announces plans for solutions. When individuals move or work or invest abroad, they can encounter double taxation and other difficulties such as in claiming tax refunds and in obtaining information on foreign tax rules.

In the paper the EESC makes a number of important recommendations:

· the establishment of one-stop shop services whereby citizens can acquire information, pay taxes and receive the necessary certificates and documentation to be used across the entire EU;

· the simplification of administrative procedures applied to cross-border situations to be undertaken on bi-lateral and multi-lateral bases across Member States, including inter alia the removal of double taxation and the utilisation of administrative instruments to ensure the seamless operation of the numerous existing double taxation agreements;

· the provision of advance tax rulings giving information on the final tax liability outcome which is specifically tailored to the individual taxpayer;

· the setting-up of a Cross-Border Taxation Observatory exercise under the auspices of the European Commission to gain, on an on-going basis, a detailed and practical understanding of existing tax barriers and their evolution

· the efficient undertaking of tax procedures in cross-border situations should not be put down on the individual citizen, but that there should be proper mechanisms in place to ensure that the operating procedures are simple and clear enough for the citizen to be able to cope with. While recognising the valid contribution made by available facilities for citizens to report tax obstacles, the effort of policy to remove such obstacles should progress beyond this.

The taxation paper  receive 74 votes in favour, 0 against and  abstentions.

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