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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Crouch Low, and Proceed With Caution

European Integration sometimes resembles a wildlife programme. You know, where they follow a pride of lions around, showing aspects of their daily life. They lie around all day, doing nothing of any value, from time to time they growl or roar, scaring the local wildebeest. But they are at their most dangerous when the creep silently through the long grass, towards their prey. Its only when it’s too late to escape, that the big cat leaps into action. So when the European Commission or Parliament is roaring, we should listen but not get too afraid. It’s when they creep up on us that we should get worried.

Brussels is keen to replace the current patchwork of national corporate tax regimes with a pan-European approach towards calculating a company’s tax base.
They are not, I repeat NOT, trying to harmonise tax rates. They are just trying to help those poor souls doing business in a number of EU states.
The Commission stressed that a new regime was not required for companies that anyway only operate in one member state. It also made clear that the Commission had no intention of proposing harmonised tax rates.
So, what are the odds, that once they have crept up on the Corporate Tax issue, through the long grass of trying to help business, they won’t leap to attack the concept of different tax rates? This may be why some countries oppose the idea.
The plan faces strong opposition from countries such as Britain and Ireland
But then judging by previous attempt by the current government to resist Brussels overtures, I guess they are as worried by the prospect as a pride of Lions would be of a baby wildebeest putting up a fight.

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