Paolo Gentiloni, new EU Commissioner for tax and Economic Affairs VIDEO © EP European Union
Brussels, 3 Oct. 2019 - In a recently renewed EU Parliament where political alliances and mutual support are essential on order to be effective, former Italian Prime Minister, and previously Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni (Italian Democratic Part / S&D Group) outlined his longstanding Parliamentary experience as starting point of his speech addressing the EU legislature’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) before being confirmed in the new role.
Gentiloni declared his commitment to the delivery of the European unemployment insurance scheme in a move which might have also positive impact on Italy's domestic politics where coalition partners 5StarM (also in Brussels) are promoting similar measures of social welfare. The fund would provide basic unemployment insurance to the short-term unemployed EU citizens for temporary support. As part of the EU Pillar of Social Rights the allowance, if approved, will make a change for millions; currently 25% of the EU population lives in poverty and average unemployment in the union is 16.9 million people (6.8 % of the total labour force, figures Eurostat 2018). The level of impact of the allowance will depend on the number of months and amount as it must enable the unemployed to fund active job seeking and prevent their fall back to long term unemployment.
Key points of the speech
"I have almost 20 years of parliamentary experience as a member of Parliament, as the chairman of a committee, Minister, Prime Minister and during that time I have learnt something fundamental: it's important to hold dialogue and debate with elected representatives and always answer their questions. Today's hearing is the earliest chance to do that and if I'm confirmed as commissioner many other chances will follow".
Ambition and condivision
"Ambition and condivision are the two key words I would chose to describe the path I will follow. Over the years we left behind despite the overcome of the economic crisis the challenges are still many such as Brexit and the uncertainty around its outcome".
Environmental commitment and sustainable growth
"I have been committed to the environmental cause since thirty five years ago. Today we all feel the sense of urgency to act to protect our climate. This will require initiatives on many fronts. Sustainable inclusive growth is the number one priority. I will favour close partnership with member states through regular and intense dialogue with governments, social partners and citizens as part of the economic surveillance. I'll work to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals in the European semester without losing focus and impact.
Delivery of the European unemployment insurance scheme
Sustainable inclusive growth also means social sustainability. Growing inequalities are affecting our European social model and should be addressed with strength and urgency. Reducing the gender gap will be a priority for inclusive growth. One of the key actions will be the delivery of the European unemployment insurance scheme. I know that this house has been calling for such a scheme for a long time. Politically it will not be easy but together we can deliver a scheme that will offer protection for citizens during difficult times in their lives".
Stability and Growth Pact
I will oversee the application of the Stability and Growth Pact to ensure sustainable public finances. I will make use of flexibilities with the rules when they are needed to deliver an appropriate fiscal stance, enable fiscal policy to play a stabilising role and promote much needed investment. In implementing our rules I will focus on public debt reduction.
Investment Plan for Europe
I will launch invest EU and the sustainable Europe investment plan as a matter of priority. The transformation of our economy strongly needs investments. Investments to deliver energy transition, green our economy and meet our carbon targets, investments on research innovation and digitization, investments in sustainable infrastructures, social investment.
Taxation and Green Deal
"74 percent of citizens agree that the EU should do more to fight against tax fraud. I am determined to work towards a fair and effective taxation in the EU. My first priority will be to make sure that taxation fully contributes to the European Green Deal. For my part I will work for a new environment taxation framework to steer the behaviour of users, consumers and producers towards a climate neutral economy. I will assess a range of measures including updating the Energy Tax Directive to align it with environmental objectives and working on a carbon border tax at EU level, compatible with your rules.
Reform the international corporate tax system
"My second objective is the European contribution to the reform the international corporate tax system to make it fit for the 21st century. It is clear to everyone that the current system is out of date. The transition to a digital economy has led to a growing disconnection between where value is created and where tax is paid. Moreover tax competition distorts business decisions and leads to tax policies aimed at short term revenue collection. Discussions on modernising international corporate taxation are now underway in the G20 supported by the OECD. By the end of next year we will need to take stock of the international discussions. If no consensus emerges I am tasked to lead efforts for a fair European digital tax and for a common corporate tax base".
Fighting against tax fraud and evasion
"My third priority is to keep fighting against tax fraud and evasion which erodes EU citizens trust in taxation systems. I want to benefit tax payer who play according the rules and focus punitive action on those that do not.
"Finally I am also proud to be the commissioner in charge of the Customs Union, a core element for the European project which safeguards a single market. Many take the Customs Union for granted but tensions are growing around the globe on trade, security, changing business model and the rise of e-commerce reinforce the need for a strong customs union. I will strive to bring the customs union to the next level of effectiveness".