THE POLITICAL opposition is calling for parliament to declare sovereignty on tax issues within the European Union, and wants the legislature to bind Slovak EU representatives to vote in line with this principle in Brussels.
The call is being led by the Christian Democrats (KDH), and has been supported by the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK). The largest opposition grouping, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), has so far not discussed the proposal, but in the past has been in favour of tax sovereignty.
“Governments in Slovakia may change, with one bringing in a higher tax and the next a lower one, but the matter remains in Slovak hands to decide. Once the power to decide on the level of taxes is handed over to the European Union, it will never be given back,” said Vladimír Palko, an MP for the KDH.
The opposition call is unlikely to be supported by the ruling coalition, however, with Smer party vice chairman Dušan Čaplovič regarding it as an anti-EU measure. “I don’t know another EU country that has made such an individual declaration,” he said for the Sme daily. “If we do that, why did we join the EU in the first place?”
The issue of tax harmonization in the EU is a controversial one, with many multinationals in favour of a unified system to reduce the complexity of doing business in different countries, but at the same time favouring individually set rates to allow low-tax countries such as Slovakia to retain their tax advantages over high-tax countries like Germany and France.
Some 20 European countries are in favour of a unified corporate tax base in the EU, according to the European Commission, while four are against – Slovakia, Estonia, Ireland and Great Britain.
While the Union requires unanimous support for tax changes to be made, it is also possible for sub-groups of at least 8 members to agree on a common policy.
16. Aug 2006 at 12:46 | Compiled from press reports by Tom Nicholson