U.S. Chamber Statement on EU State Aid Decisions

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 5:30pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation and Executive Director for Antitrust Policy Vice President Sean Heather issued the following statement on the European Commission’s decisions against Luxembourg and the Netherlands for tax arrangements that are deemed to violate EU State aid laws:

“Today’s decisions by the Commission regarding State aid inject a significant degree of uncertainty into the business climate, retroactively calling into question thousands of tax arrangements that were previously understood to be legal and appropriate.

“Businesses should not be caught between EU treaty provisions that on one hand promote competition among Member States—allowing each to govern their own direct taxation laws—while on the other hand gives the Commission competency to enforce State aid laws. Nor should State aid enforcement serve as a back door to debate tax reform within the EU.

“Tax laws are complicated, and it is routine for businesses to seek clarification from tax authorities in order to appropriately interpret liabilities for companies that operate across borders. It had long been understood that such interpretations did not constitute a form of State aid as long as they were applied evenhandedly.

“Member State tax authorities are now left questioning the extent of their competency, and companies doing business across the EU are unfairly being placed at risk for their good faith efforts to follow Member State tax law.  Short of much greater clarification about what is unique about these specific cases, a cloud of uncertainty will remain.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.