Relations between the European Union and Switzerland remain excellent, despite Swiss voters recently rejecting plans to overhaul corporate taxes, the EU tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday. In addition, a new Swiss corporate tax project appeared to be ‘on track’.
“Switzerland is still very much part of a movement towards adhering to global standards to fight tax evasion and tax fraud,” Moscovici told Swiss public radio, RTS.
“While fully respecting Swiss democracy, I hope that Switzerland continues to work in this direction.”
The Frenchman held talks with Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer on Tuesday in Bern. He praised Swiss plans to launch a new corporate taxation project following the no-vote on February 12.
“It's the signal we were looking for,” said Moscovici.
Back to drawing board
On February 12, voters blocked a tax system revamp, sending the Swiss government back to the drawing board as it tries to abolish ultra-low tax rates for multinationals without triggering a mass exodus by those companies. Some 59% of voters felt the proposals were too generous to companies at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.
Following the vote, Moscovici shared the European Commission’s disappointment at the Swiss results.
The vote put non-EU member Switzerland on a potential collision course with the EU and the OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development), the club of rich countries. The Swiss had promised to meet international standards and end by 2019 special low tax rates that benefit around 24,000 foreign companies.
On Tuesday, Maurer presented the calendar for a new corporate taxation project, entitled ‘Projet fiscal 17’ (Tax project 17), which the government will fully outline in June. The project should enter into force at federal level in 2019 and in 2020 in the cantons, which must make various changes, the Swiss minister told reporters in Bern.
Moscovici said he was happy with the new tax discussions and the fact that Switzerland had ‘reacted quickly’ and the project appeared to be on track.
“It’s going in the right direction and at the right speed,” he declared.