The European Commission has set up a Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) to provide specialist technical assistance for member states who request help to implement key tax reforms and manage finances in a bid to head off future crises in the wake of the instability created by the Greece crisis
The SRSS will support EU member states in reviewing and improving legislative, policy and administrative tax matters in their countries, to grow revenues and promote EU tax harmonisation.
The move comes as Greece faces economic upheaval as it defaults on its latest €1.5bn (£1.06bn) loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) despite the latest talks on a possible bailout, and has called a referendum this Sunday on the country’s future membership of the eurozone.
European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, who is responsible for co-ordinating the new service, said it will draw on the expertise and know-how of the task force for Greece and the support group for Cyprus.
However, unlike these initiatives, which are set up to tackle specific problems and then wound down, the new SRSS is a permanent body with a wider mandate, offering practical technical support to member states.
Dombrovskis said the service will draw on expertise from across the Commission, member states and international bodies.
‘It will provide practical support and guidance to implement key reforms, particularly those set out in our country-specific recommendations, proposed on 13 May.
‘For example, technical assistance will be offered to help member states absorb and use EU funds effectively, drawing on the good results we have had in the past with such assistance,’ Dombrovskis said.
It will also offer support in a number of areas, including revenue management and public financial management; helping to facilitate and promote exports; assistance on employment, social inclusion and public health; developing efficient, service-oriented public administrations and procurement practices; effective rule of law and combatting corruption.
Richard Asquith, vice president of global tax at tax compliance company Avalara, said: ‘The creation of the permanent EC tax service appears to be a sensible retention of best practices, to be made available to struggling member states to help avoid another crisis like the current situation in Greece.
‘However, there may be concern that the EC’s work becomes seen as intrusive in state affairs and its recommendations become seen as conditions to future funding support from the EC or the European Central Bank (ECB).’
The EC statement is available here