Where can money be found to boost growth? In conclusions adopted on 2 March, the leaders of the 27 member states refer openly to the option of stepping up the fight against tax fraud and evasion, which "can contribute to fiscal consolidation". The text was slightly reworded from the draft conclusions in order to respect German sensitivities.
"Recognising member states' competences in this area, the European Council invites member states, where appropriate, to review their tax systems with the aim of making them more effective and efficient, removing unjustified exemptions, broadening the tax base, shifting taxes away from labour, improving the efficiency of tax collection and tackling tax evasion," state the leaders. "The Council and the Commission are invited to rapidly develop concrete ways to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, including in relation to third countries," they continue, "and to report in June 2012".
According to the Director of Tax Research UK, Richard Murphy, who recently drafted the report entitled 'Closing the European tax gap', tax evasion adds up to more than €864 billion per year in the Union.