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Holland: Er Konkurrence Fair?

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Europa-Kommissionen har formelt foreslået Nederlandene at afskaffe fritagelsen for selskabsskat, der gives til nederlandske offentlige virksomheder. Kommissionen finder, at offentlige virksomheder, der udøver økonomiske aktiviteter i konkurrence med private virksomheder, ligeledes bør være underlagt selskabsskat - ligesom private virksomheder er. Fritagelse af visse virksomheder kun fordi de er offentligt ejede giver dem en konkurrencemæssig fordel, som ikke kan retfærdiggøres i henhold til EU's statsstøtteregler.

 

“To deliver all its benefits our Single Market requires fair competition. There must be equality of arms for all market players and I am confident that the Netherlands will adapt their tax laws in that respect” – Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said:
Under the Dutch Corporate Tax Law, economic activities by public bodies – either as part of the public administration or in the form of publicly owned companies – are, in principle, exempted from corporate tax. It is true that there are a number of exceptions from this exemption: certain economic activities (like farming or mining) and certain publicly owned companies (like Schiphol airport in Amsterdam or the National Lottery) are subject to corporate tax. Nevertheless, there are many economic activities by public bodies – including all services – and many publicly owned companies that remain exempted. Such companies include the port of Rotterdam, Holland Casino, Maastricht’s airport, several development agencies, Bank of Industry LIOF or Twinning Holding. These companies compete directly with private players in the Netherlands and in the EU Single Market who do not benefit from the same treatment.
In July 2008, following a number of complaints, the Commission informed the Dutch authorities of its preliminary view that the measure distorted competition in the internal market, in breach of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). The Commission’s investigation found that the different tax treatment of publicly and privately owned companies pursuing an economic activity gives publicly owned enterprises a selective advantage.Abolishing the corporate tax exemption for economic activities by all public bodies, both as part of the public administration or in the form of publicly owned companies, so that public and private economic activities are taxed in the same way. This would best address the issue.
Alternativt kan afskaffelse af selskabsskattefritagelsen kun ske for offentligt ejede virksomheder, forudsat at alle økonomiske aktiviteter, der i øjeblikket udføres af den offentlige administration, bliver afskåret i (offentlig ejede) selskabsskattepligtige virksomheder.
Nederlandene skal nu underrette Kommissionen inden for en måned, om det kan acceptere de foreslåede ændringer. I mangel af en aftale kan Kommissionen åbne en formel undersøgelse af statsstøtteHollandske offentlige virksomheder har haft en fritagelse for selskabsskat siden 1956 inden den nederlandske tiltrædelse af EU. Foranstaltningen betragtes derfor som eksisterende støtte (dvs. som en støtteforanstaltning, der allerede var på plads, inden Rom-traktaten trådte i kraft), og dens vurdering er underlagt en specifik samarbejdsprocedure mellem Nederlandene og Kommissionen. Når Kommissionen finder, at eksisterende støtte er i strid med EU-reglerne for statsstøtte, beder den ikke medlemsstaten om at inddrive den tildelte støtte, men beder den snarere om at bringe en foranstaltning til ophør.

 

Colin Stevens

 

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