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Algirdas Semeta

European Commissioner for Taxation, Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud

Algirdas Semeta

As the man at the heart of EU tax reform, Commissioner Semeta maintains his place among our Top 10 most influential people in tax.

He has slipped from second to fourth place as the scandals surrounding companies exposed for corporate tax avoidance have tended to set the agenda of tax policy this year, but as an ambitious reformer, he has made his mark on the shape of the European tax landscape.

Among Semeta’s most important achievements of the past year are leading the EU fight against tax evasion and avoidance, facilitating the first ever enhanced cooperation initiative in EU taxation with the financial transaction tax (FTT), and progress in VAT reform including an agreement on a quick reaction mechanism (QRM) and a proposal for standard declaration.

“Over the past year, we have made more progress in the campaign to fight tax evasion than in the previous decade before that,” Semeta says. “At EU level, the action plan I presented at the end of 2012 served as the perfect springboard to launch this surge forward. It allowed EU leaders a focal point for their discussions at the May summit and a basis on which to commit to concrete measures against tax evasion and avoidance.”

The increased momentum allowed agreement to be reached on the QRM to fight VAT fraud and on mandates to negotiate stronger tax agreements with Switzerland and four other close neighbours.

“EU leaders have also called for the stronger Savings Directive to be agreed before the end of the year, after years of impasse on this important proposal,” Semeta says. “In addition, the Commission brought forward a new proposal in June which will enable the EU to have the widest application of automatic information exchange anywhere in the world. We also, through the new economic governance structure, issued country specific recommendations to a number of member states to improve their administrative efficiency at home and step up their efforts to address non-compliance.”

Semeta expects the Commission’s most important achievements next year will include a stronger tax agreement with Switzerland, shaping the EU contribution to BEPS and OECD global standard of AEI, and a likely agreement on the FTT by 11 member states.

Further reading

EXCLUSIVE: Commissioner Semeta announces his tax reform priorities for 2014

European Commission tightens corporate tax rules

EU member states give green light for FTT

The Global Tax 50 2013

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