The Chief Minister of Guernsey, Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, and the Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst, paid a joint visit to Brussels on 5-7 May 2015.
Their programme included meetings with two EU Commissioners: Pierre Moscovici, the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs and Lord Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Markets and Customs Union.
Commenting after the meeting between the Chief Ministers and Commissioner Moscovici on 5 May:
Commissioner Moscovici said:
“I very much welcome the active engagement of the Channel Islands in the key initiatives involved in the fight against tax evasion, fraud and abusive tax avoidance in which they are important partners of the EU. Their commitment to the adoption of the Common Reporting Standard on automatic exchange of information, alongside the EU Member States, is particularly positive.”
Deputy Le Tocq said:
“It is vital that we speak directly with the decision-makers of the still relatively new Juncker Commission. Meeting Commissioner Moscovici was important for two reasons – firstly, to enhance awareness and understanding of the Channel Islands, and secondly to understand future developments on tax co-operation. My message was that we are part of the European mainstream on tax transparency, and should be seen as partners, not problems, for the Commission. It was heartening to hear that that is indeed how the Commissioner also sees us.”
Senator Gorst said:
“I emphasised to Commissioner Moscovici the importance of using objective, international standards when assessing good governance by third countries such as Jersey and Guernsey on tax matters. The Channel Islands continue to meet the highest international standards on tax transparency, and it is positive that we are able to ensure that message is heard at the very senior levels of the European Commission.”
The Chief Ministers also publicly welcomed support from European Parliamentarians and from the European Commission for the positive contribution they make to the European economy.
Speaking at the end of the visit on 7 May:
Deputy Le Tocq said:
“The Channel Islands’ funds sector is as a conduit for around €200 billion of in inward investment into Europe. That supports growth and jobs across Europe, and course is vital for jobs and economic growth on our islands. We are an important economic partner of the EU, and that is the message that we have been delivering in Brussels – that continued access to European capital markets for the Channel Islands is good for the EU. “We had the opportunity to discuss that this morning with Commissioner Jonathan Hill, who is responsible for financial stability, financial services and capital markets, and with the UK Permanent Representation in BrusseIs. I was pleased with the growing recognition that the Channel Islands is an important economic partner of the EU.”
Senator Gorst added:
“The Islands’ economic contribution is increasingly well-understood in Brussels. The meetings we had with the members of the Economic Affairs and Tax Committees, as well as Lord Hill, demonstrates the importance of continuing to engage at the senior level of the European Parliament and the European Commission. In our meeting with the Chair of the Tax Committee, Alain Lamassoure MEP, we were able to offer our expertise and input into the work that they are doing over the next few months on tax transparency. Our meetings with Luxembourg and the Netherlands’ Permanent Representatives to the EU also mean that we have a growing understanding of the emerging priorities of the next two EU Presidencies, and that they have an understanding of areas where we can offer input.”
Commissioner Hill added after his meeting with the Chief Ministers on 7 May:
“I was glad to meet today the Chief Ministers of Guernsey and Jersey and discuss the contribution they want to make to the Capital Markets Union and the importance of good regulatory co-operation.”
The Chief Ministers’ programme also included meetings with:
- Ambassador Christian Braun, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg (which holds the EU Presidency in the second half of 2015);
- Ambassador Pieter de Gooijer, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands (which holds the EU Presidency in the first half of 2016);
- Ambassador Ivan Rogers, Permanent Representative of the UK;
- Alain Lamassoure MEP, Chair of the new European Parliament Committee on tax rulings (TAXE).
The Chief Ministers of Guernsey and Jersey attended a lunch with members of the EP’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) and Special Committee on Tax Rulings (TAXE) to discuss the contribution that the Islands’ finance sector makes to the EU’s economy and the jobs that it supports, both within the EU and in the Islands. They also addressed over 50 guests from the EU institutions, the diplomatic community, and industry associations at an event organised by the Channel Islands Brussels Office.