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Code of Conduct Group on business taxation - meeting background documents

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Dear Taxation and Customs Union,

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:

Any room document or other written input prepared by the
Commission in the context of the work of the Code of Conduct Group on business taxation since its inception on 9.3.1998.

Please post documents electronically to my email address or physically to

Fabio De Masi
European Parliament
WIB 03M031
Rue Wiertz 60
1047 Bruxelles

Yours faithfully,

Fabio De Masi

Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your requests dated 29/09/2015. We hereby acknowledge receipt of your applications for access to documents, which were registered on 29/09/2015 under reference number GestDem 2015/5101.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, your applications will be handled within 15 working days. The time limit will expire on 20/10/2015. In case this time limit needs to be extended, you will be informed in due course.

You have lodged your applications via the AsktheEU.org website. Please note that this is a private website which has no link with any institution of the European Union. Therefore the European Commission cannot be held accountable for any technical issues or problems linked to the use of this system.

Yours faithfully,

TAXUD ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS

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Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Mr De Masi,

We refer to your requests dated 29/09/2015 in which you make a request for access to documents, registered on 29/09/2015 under the above mentioned reference number.

Your application is currently being handled. However, we will not be in a position to complete the handling of your application within the time limit of 15 working days, which expires on 20/10/2015.

An extended time limit is needed in order to complete our assessment on the possibility for the public disclosure of the document requested. We have recently received many requests for access to documents in the area of interest to you and it proves to be difficult for the service concerned to deal with all these requests within the first 15 working days laid down by Regulation 1049/01.

Therefore, we have to extend the time limit with 15 working days in accordance with Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents. The new time limit expires on 11/11/2015.

We apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Yours faithfully,

TAXUD ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS

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Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

3 Adjuntos

Dear Mr De Masi,

We thank you for your request.

Please find herewith our reply. Due to the length of the annexes we will send our reply in different e-mails.

Best regards,

Sabine Verleysen
European Commission
DG TAXUD – R2
Access to documents

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Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

1 Adjuntos

[Subject only] Ares(2015)5013203 - your requests for documents - Gestdem 2015/5101 - part 2

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Dear Mr Zourek,

I thank you and your services for your response under the reference number GestDem 2015/5101 dated 29 October 2015 to my request for access to documents from 29 September 2015 as posted here:

http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/code_...

In your letter, you quote my request as "Any informal notes, minutes or other written records from Commission representatives attending meetings of the Code of Conduct group on business taxation since its coming into existence (since 9.3.1998)." Before commenting on the substance of your assessment, I would like to point out two errors in the reflection of my initial request.

1. The passage you refer to actually reads "Any formal or informal notes, minutes or other written records from Commission representatives attending meetings of the Code of Conduct group on business taxation since its inception on 9.3.1998." and notably includes also the reference to formal notes. I understand your response (GestDEM 2015/5101), as it is phrased in the letter, as a clear restriction to my actual request.
2. The quoted passage stems from a second request for documents (to be found here: http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/code_...) to which you have not provided an answer yet. My text in this first request, to which you did provide the answer, reads as follows: "Any room document or other written input prepared by the Commission in the context of the work of the Code of Conduct Group on business taxation since its inception on 9.3.1998."

Since your answer somehow seems to refer to both of my initial request, I explicitly make this confirmatory application for both initial requests as well. The so far unanswered request would in any case have given rise to a confirmatory application according to Art 7 (4) of Regulation 1049/01 due to a non-respect of the set deadline to respond by 15 working days to my request.

Therefore my confirmatory application reads as follows: "Any formal and informal notes, minutes or other written records from the European Commission as well as any room document or other written input prepared by the Commission in the context of the work of the Code of Conduct Group on business taxation since its inception on 9.3.1998."

While I understand the inconveniences that arise from my request as regards work required by your department, I disagree with several of the conclusions you derive in your letter and which is why I submit the aforementioned confirmatory application of my request pursuant to Article 7 (2) of Regulation 1049/01.

Given the secretive nature of the Code of Conduct group, it is difficult to impossible to know about the content and the nature of subjects discussed. Hence your demand to tailor more specific requests for individual documents, although understandable from a purely administrative point of view, would entail a significant a priori limitation of my rights to document assess if the selection is based on the very incomplete picture as it emerges from the few already released documents.

Moreover, from a political and public interest point of view, I deem the substance and nature of the documents requested as extremely relevant given that they would potentially inform about political responsibilities for tax policy decisions which cost European citizens enormous amounts of money every year as a consequence of tax avoidance and other harmful practices. This overriding public interest has to be taken into account when balancing costs and benefits of public disclosure under the angle of proportionality that you stress.

I hope this explanation allows you to review the Commission’s position and that you will be in a position to support my call for more transparency in the interest of European citizens on this crucial matter.

In the case the Commission continues to refuse my request for access to documents regarding "Any formal and informal notes, minutes or other written records from the European Commission as well as any room document or other written input prepared by the Commission in the context of the work of the Code of Conduct Group on business taxation since its inception on 9.3.1998.",I alternatively request the following specific documents:

• A copy of the summary database produced by the European Commission on the basis of the work of the Code of Conduct Group and other fora covering corporate taxation which contains a list and/or assessment of all potentially harmful tax practices in European Union Member States.
• The European Commission's minutes of Code of Conduct Group meetings between 01/01/2010 and 15/11/2015. This should be far less than 100 documents in total and would not constitute a disproportionate burden.
• All room documents prepared by the European Commission for Code of Conduct Group meetings dealing with patent boxes as well as the use, application and exchange between administrations of tax rulings and/or advance pricing agreements.

Kind regards

Fabio De Masi

Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Mr de Masi,

Thank your for your message below and for your request for documents covering more specific subject matters as follows :

1. A copy of the summary database produced by the European Commission on the basis of the work of the Code of Conduct Group and other fora covering corporate taxation which contains a list and/or assessment of all potentially harmful tax practices in European Union Member States.
2. The European Commission's minutes of Code of Conduct Group meetings between 01/01/2010 and 15/11/2015.
3. All room documents prepared by the European Commission for Code of Conduct Group meetings dealing with patent boxes as well as the use, application and exchange between administrations of tax rulings and/or advance pricing agreements.

It still concerns a large number of documents originating from the Commission, over a few years. It is therefore not possible, due the workload in Commission services, in particular due to requests for access to documents, to handle this request in the normal timeframe set up by Article 7 of Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents. In particular, some documents will have to be sent to the Member States for consultation and the consultation and analysis cannot be expected to be completed within the normal time limits set out in Article 7 of Regulation 1049/2001. For instance, the informal minutes are being sent to the Member States for consultation who will be granted until 8 January 2016 to provide their reply. In view of the replies from Member States , a final assessment of the documents will be carried out as well as the redaction of those parts of the documents to which exceptions of Regulation 1049/2001 apply, the drafting and the approval of the reply.

In accordance with the provisions of Article 6(3) of Regulation 1049, we are writing with a view to agreeing on the organisation of the assessment of the documents and the sending of a reply, along the following schedule:

- documents under indents 1 and 2, the reply will be provided between 15 and 30 working days from the date of your agreement to the proposed solution,
- documents under indent 3, the reply will be provided between 15 and 30 working days from the date of departure of the first reply.

We trust that you will understand the constraints linked to the handling of these documents and that you will agree with this solution.

Best regards,

VIRGINIE GUENNELON
Legal officer
European Commission
Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union
Inter-Institutional Relations, coordination, communication and strategic planning.
J-79, 3/233
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 29 58408
[email address]

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Dear Ms Guennelon,

I thank you for your response dated 16/12/2015 to the alternative part of my confirmatory application from 18/11/2015.

Taking note of the procedural explanations you provided, I accept, in this specific case, the more generous time frame for the provision of the documents you refer to.

Kind regards,

Fabio De Masi

Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Mr De Masi,

Further to your last message, I would like to provide you with further information regarding the handling of documents requested under item 2 (in message below).

In my message of 16 December 2015, I pointed out that the informal minutes were being sent to the Member States and that the deadline for the consultation was until 8 January 2016.
In the course of a meeting in the Council, last week, the issue was discussed and it was agreed that the Member States will have until Monday 25 January to provide their opinion on the disclosure of the documents at stake.
We will nevertheless, do our utmost to respect the deadline of 9 February.

Best regards,
Virginie Guennelon

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Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

3 Adjuntos

Dear Mr De Masi,

Please find herewith a letter signed by Mr S. Quest and its annexes.

Best regards,

European Commission
DG TAXUD – R2
Access to documents

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Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Mr de Masi,

I refer to your requests under GestDem 2015/5101 and to the fair solution agreed upon on 19 December 2015 below.

Under that framework, you have received a reply covering points 1 and 2 of your request under the reference Gestdem 2015/5101.

In order to facilitate the references to the forthcoming reply to be provided, we hereby acknowledge receipt of the remaining parts of your application for access to documents under the reference GestDem 2016/1851.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, we will do our utmost to handle your request within 15 working days following the sending of the previous reply. In case this time limit needs to be extended, you will be informed in due course.

Yours faithfully,

DG TAXUD R2 - Access to documents

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Dear Taxation and Customs Union,

Thank you very much for your last messages. Please find attached below my reply including a confirmatory application.

Yours faithfully,

Fabio De Masi

Please find the full confirmatory application here: http://www.fabio-de-masi.de/kontext/cont...

Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Mr de Masi,

Your application is currently being handled. However, we will not be in a position to complete the handling of your application within the time limit of 15 working days, which expires on 03/05/2016.

An extended time limit for more in-depth investigation is needed in order to complete our assessment on the possibility for the public disclosure of the documents requested.

Therefore, we have to extend the time limit with 15 working days in accordance with Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents. The new time limit expires on 30/05/2016.

We apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Yours faithfully,

TAXUD ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS

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Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

5 Adjuntos

Dear Mr De Masi,

We thank you for your request.

Please find herewith our reply.

Best regards,

Sabine Verleysen
European Commission
DG TAXUD – R2
Access to documents

Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

Dear Mr de Masi,

I refer to your request regarding access to :

1- a copy of the summary database produced by the European Commission on the basis of the work of the Code of Conduct Group and other fora covering corporate taxation which contains a list and/or assessment of all potentially harmful tax practices in European Union Member States.
2- the European Commission's minutes of Code of Conduct Group meetings between 01/01/2010 and 15/11/2015,
3- all room documents prepared by the European Commission for Code of Conduct Group meetings dealing with patent boxes as well as the use, application and exchange between administrations of tax rulings and/or advance pricing agreements.

Points 1 and 2 of your request have been the subject of replies of 11 April and 20 May under reference Gestdem 2015/5101.

Point 3 is taken care of under reference Gestdem 2016/1851 but in view of the number of documents at stake, and of the number of requests to be handled by the service dealing with the subject matter, it has not been possible to provide you with a reply yet. We can assure you that the work is in progress and that we are doing our utmost to provide you with a reply as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

DG TAXUD R2 - Access to documents

Fiscalidad y Unión Aduanera

17 Adjuntos

Dear Mr de Masi,

We thank you for your request.

Please find herewith our reply.

Best regards,

European Commission
DG TAXUD – R2
Access to documents

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No sabemos si la última respuesta a esta solicitud contiene información o no – si eres Fabio De Masi por favor abre una sesión y háznoslo saber.