Jul 23 2019

The appointment of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to be the next European Commission President has been met with a largely positive reception, as von der Leyen is highly respected in both Europe and the US for her work in the Merkel government. However, von der Leyen’s impressive resume does not include fiscal experience, leading even supporters to wonder how she will tackle difficult questions surrounding EU tax policy.

Womble Bond Dickinson international tax attorney Rick Minor examines these key questions in a new Bloomberg Tax article. Minor, a former fiscal advisor to the Luxembourg government of Jean Claude Juncker, says that von der Leyen’s choice for Tax Commissioner will play a key role in shaping EU tax policy during the next five years.

“The Tax Commissioner will be one of the five most critical portfolios in the new Commission in terms of the US trade relationship, the others being anti-trust, trade, GDPR, and digital policy (other than tax),” Minor writes. He discusses the likely candidates and focuses in on a shortlist of leaders who may be in line to become the next EU Tax Commissioner.

The appointment comes as the EU grapples with a global digital agenda that could prove contentious with the US, as many of the digital companies to be taxed are based in the US. As a candidate, von der Leyen said, “If by the end of 2020 there is still no global solution for a fair digital tax, the EU should act alone.”

But Minor writes that such campaign statements shouldn’t be taken as EU policy cornerstones. Minor said he expects to see more substantive digital tax guidance, in the form of “mission statements” from the new President, in the weeks to come.

Click here to read “INSIGHT: Choosing the Next EU Tax Commissioner” at Bloomberg Tax.

Rick Minor is an international tax lawyer with over two decades of experience in Europe advising US businesses on cross-border tax, commercial and regulatory issues. He has advocated before officials of the European Commission on behalf of US companies and in his own name on tax and privacy law issues. He follows closely the constantly evolving agenda of the European Commission and can advise US clients on how to manage the complexity of that agenda as it specifically impacts their European business models. He was a fiscal advisor to the outgoing Commission President, Jean Claude Juncker, when Juncker was Prime Minister of Luxembourg.

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