The cross : The presidential majority emphasizes that the creation of a European tax system will allow the French to pay only 40 of the 100 billion euros planned for the post-Covid recovery. How is it possible ?
Jacques Le Cacheux: It’s a bit simplifying. Of course, France must receive 40 billion euros in subsidies, from the 750 billion euros of common debt at European level. And yes, this debt must be covered from 2026 by European taxes which hit bases that are not specifically French.
But, on the one hand, it will undoubtedly be necessary to pay the interest on this debt, even if it is planned for such a long term that we will never see it. On the other hand, the principles of debt repayment are so vague that it is difficult to say for sure how the burden will be distributed.
Will there be an indirect tax impact, for example, in the case of a tax on digital giants, with an impact in the tariffs of the additional tax paid in France? At the moment, no one can tell.
Can the envisaged fiscal resources be sufficient?
J. L. C. : Yes, it may be worth enough, between 25 and 30 billion euros per year according to estimates. But the implementation of these tax revenues remains very vague. A tax on single-use plastics is due to come into force this year, and will a priori be joined by others, if we are to believe the agreement reached in November between the Council and the European Parliament. A tax on digital giants, the “Digitaxe”, is expected for 2023, as well as a tax on financial transactions, from 2026, the year in which European harmonization of corporate tax will also appear.
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In addition, there are “green” taxes. From 2023, the levies already existing at national level on the greenhouse gas emissions quota trading system (ETS) will feed the European budget.
Finally, there is the carbon tax mechanism at the EU’s external borders, which plans to impose customs duties on non-European companies that do not comply with EU environmental standards.
Are these European taxes a consensus from one country to another?
J. L. C. : Not at all. Unlike France, which pushes the principle of a carbon levy at European borders, Germany and the Netherlands see it as an instrument of protectionism and are much more reluctant to it. The tax on financial transactions, in the drawers for 12 years, was initially supported by only ten Member States, the minimum to establish enhanced cooperation.
As for the European harmonization of corporate tax, the most lax countries on company registration, such as Ireland or the Netherlands, are in no hurry to see it born.
Europeans therefore have a lot of work to do in order to converge their points of view. There may be a little more chance of ending up with a digital tax. Now that Donald Trump is no longer in the White House, an agreement may eventually come to fruition within the framework of the OECD. It is useful, whatever happens, to start debating all these possible resources, in national parliaments, even if the vagueness surrounding these questions undoubtedly prevents, at this stage, from saying specific things.