On 1 July Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU for a period of six months, until 31 December. Under the motto “A Europe that protects”, Austria aims to apply the principle of subsidiarity wherever deemed appropriate and possible. However, the Austrian Presidency will focus on achieving joint solutions on big issues which form part of the three priority areas.
One of the three priority areas is “Securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalization”, which is of greatest interest to the e-commerce industry. As part of these efforts, Austria will push for a decrease in overregulation so to ensure further progress in innovation and digitization. Therefore, completing the Digital Single Market will be one of the top priorities. The most important dossiers in this area are the Platform-to-Business Regulation and the ePrivacy Regulation.
Since Austria considers tax competition among member states and tax avoidance one of the factors that could hurt the European economy, it will continue the work on fair taxation with the aim to ensure that profits are taxed in the country in which they are generated. The Presidency aims to take strong and unequivocal positions vis-à-vis international partners, especially when it comes to taxation of the digital economy. The Austrian Presidency will focus on advancing the negotiations and outlining potential solutions in this area. Ecommerce Europe is taking an active role in the negotiations in this area as well. To that end, Ecommerce Europe sent a letter to the members of the European Council on 25 June outlining the industry’s concerns regarding the taxation of the digital economy.
Other important focus areas of the Austrian Presidency will be the European Commission’s proposal for the introduction of a common corporate tax base, modernization of the VAT, Single Market Program, the goods, services and compliance packages as well as the ‘New Deal for Consumers’ package.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and scale-ups will be given an important role during the Austrian Presidency, with the aim to offer them legal certainty while at the same time promoting growth and innovation to help them become more competitive.
The full program of the Austrian Presidency is available here.