[BRUSSELS] New rules requiring multinational corporations to reveal tax and financial data to authorities in all EU countries where they operate may be agreed by the bloc's states as soon as March, EU diplomats said on Monday.
In a bid to curb multinationals' tax avoidance, which is estimated by the European Parliament to cost European Union countries 70 billion euros (US$77 billion) a year in lost revenues, the European Commission proposed in January new measures against profit shifting and other schemes.
The EU's executive also published draft rules to increase corporations' tax transparency - known as country-by-country reporting - which would oblige companies to disclose their revenues, profits, taxes paid and accrued, earnings and other sensitive data to tax administrations of all EU countries where they operate.
The EU's 28 states are likely to fast-track the negotiations on country-by-country reporting rules, with the aim to reach a"political agreement" by next month, diplomats involved in the talks told Reuters.
A first exchange on the Commission's tax avoidance proposals will be held at the regular monthly meeting of EU finance ministers on Friday.
The political deal would need to be followed by a compromise on technical issues before becoming operational, but the unusually short period to reach a consensus would represent a rare example of EU cohesion on tax matters, where usually states block or slow down talks for years, exploiting their veto power on tax issues.
The deal may also pave the way to further proposals to make corporations' disclosures completely public, and not just limited to tax administrations.
The Commission is assessing the consequences of such a bold move and aims at reaching a conclusion "at the latest by the first quarter of this year," a Commission spokeswoman told journalists on Monday.
EU's tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici has repeatedly said that he would favour a full disclosure of corporations' tax and financial data, provided that such a move were not to harm the competitiveness of companies operating in the EU.
A proposal on "public tax transparency (country-by-country reporting)" is in the agenda of the EU Commission meeting on April 12, the EU executive calendar shows.
EU countries may also strike a deal in May on the proposals made by the EU executive on curbing tax avoidance schemes, EU diplomats said.
The current Dutch presidency of the EU has put tax issues at the top of the economic agenda during its semester which ends in July.