Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No Means No!

Is it me or is the EU just getting to big for its boots? Today I read that the EU is performing its bully boy tactics on Switzerland again.

Basically the row is about corporate taxes. The EU is saying that some cantons give favourable tax breaks for companies establishing businesses here.

"So far, the union is not threatening sanctions, but has warned of unilateral trade and commercial restrictions that could affect the Swiss for whom the EU is their biggest trading partner."

What! Switzerland actually voted against joining the EU, so now we are to be subject to sanctions, dressed up as 'commercial restrictions'? What about the 1bn Swiss Francs that have been committed to the new countries going into the EU...what about the savings directive that was implemented?

I won't go into the 'double standards' debate because this could be long and arduous, needless to say that the EU commission needs to wake up and smell the latte.. When one of your members can have the headline "Britain is the worst country in the industrialised world in which to be a child" plastered over newspapers quoting from the UN, then perhaps it is time to take an inward look instead of trying to 'harmonise' a country that has one of the lowest crime rates and the highest standard of living in the World.

'Harmonisation' is just a politically correct way of bringing those countries that run their ecomnomies better than you, down to your level. Switzerland will not fall for this I am sure.
If they do, I suggest that we just throw away competition all together and 'harmonise' sport.. especially football.. In the forthcoming European Championships in Switzerland we should let the England team start with a two goal lead and play 16 men... now that is my type of 'harmonisation'.

Ridiculous, yes, but it is about as ridiculous as the EU talking about 'sanctioning' a peaceful well run country that is in its own back yard. Still, I don't think anything will happen...where would the Gravy Train riders in the EU parliament put all their expense money, if not in their Swiss bank accounts?

Here is the full article that started my rant!!

Swiss Info

The commission wants the Swiss to change tax rules that it claims offer unfair advantages to firms operating out of Switzerland. It said low corporate taxes offered by cantons such as Obwalden and Zug violated a 1972 trade agreement, calling it a disguised state subsidy.

"Switzerland enjoys the benefits of privileged access to the [European Union] internal market," said EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner on Tuesday.

"The decision the commission has taken is not about tax competition but about state aid undermining the level playing field necessary for our partnership and the trade relations between Switzerland and the EU."

The commission said the system allowed companies based in Switzerland to enjoy tax breaks on profits generated inside the EU, at an estimated cost of around SFr3 billion (€1.85 billion) annually.

So far, the union is not threatening sanctions, but has warned of unilateral trade and commercial restrictions that could affect the Swiss for whom the EU is their biggest trading partner.

Merz said he does not fear a backlash from Brussels since so far all the talk is about negotiations. He reckons that sanctions are also unlikely, as some EU member states would probably not back them.
The finance minister admitted though that the European initiative was aimed at stopping firms – and their tax money – leaving the union for Switzerland's greener pastures.

Hot topic The tax dispute remains a hot political issue in Switzerland and the EU's decision drew sharp reactions from three of the four parties in the government.

The rightwing Swiss People's Party described the Commission's decision as unwarranted interference in Switzerland's internal affairs. It also rejected the possibility of opening negotiations on cantonal tax policies with the EU.

The secretary of the centre-right Christian Democratic People's Party, Reto Nause, also said the tax issue should not be up for debate and the centre-right Radicals said Brussels was picking on Switzerland to make up for its own failings.

But the Social Democrats spokesman Jean-Yves Gentil said his party opposed unfair tax competition and would be prepared to discuss the issue of tax deals with the EU.

Cantonal finance ministers spoke up, saying that the union lacked a strong legal position to make its claims. Zug's treasurer added that proof of this was that attacks on Switzerland's corporate tax structure were becoming more political.

For economiesuisse, the Swiss Business Federation, calling into question the 1972 trade agreement is legally unacceptable, and can only damage business and financial interests.

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