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Today, the Ministry of Finance started a series of public consultations on the Draft Programme of the Republic of Bulgaria for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (1 January - 30 June 2018) with representatives of employer, trade union and sectoral organisations, NGOs, academia and other stakeholders, which is in line with the government decision of July 2017. The main purpose of these meetings is to promote and discuss the specific priorities to be implemented by the Ministry of Finance; the final version of the Programme for the Bulgarian Presidency will be drafted after the end of the campaign.  

The first public consultation at the MoF focused on the priority topics and files in the field of taxation. The discussion was attended by representatives of the national employer organisations, the Bulgarian Association of Tobacco Industry, the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association, the National Vine and Wine Chamber, the Association of Producers, Importers and Traders of Spirit Drinks, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Bulgaria, UNWE, etc.

Deputy Minister of Finance Boyko Atanasov presented the concept of the campaign and focused on the main purpose of the discussion - presentation of the priority topics and files related to taxation, administrative cooperation and exchange of information for tax purposes among EU Member States. He pointed out that "the priority topics and files in the area of taxation need to be defined in line with the strategic and programming documents of the European Union, the legislative proposals and the work programme of the European Commission and the global context, while also taking into account the political priorities of our country during the Bulgarian Presidency and the achievements of the previous Estonian Presidency". Boyko Atanasov expressed the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that "with its expertise and experience the civil sector, represented by the NGOs, will participate in our common efforts to successfully identify the most important areas, topics and legislative files on which the Presidency will work and on which significant progress and successful results can be achieved".   

Lyudmila Petkova, Director of Tax Policy Directorate of the MoF, informed the participants in the discussion that the Bulgarian Presidency team in the field of taxation included around 90 experts from the Tax Policy Directorate of the MoF, the National Revenue Agency and the Customs Agency, with the experts being allocated in a way to have individual teams for each file. They will be responsible for the planning, organisation and conducting of three preparatory bodies of the Council of the EU - the Working Party on Tax Questions, which covers direct and indirect taxation; the Group of the Code of Conduct, which addresses all topics that are not linked to legislation; and the High-Level Group, which discusses the topics before they are debated by the Finance Ministers at ECOFIN. 

The European initiatives in the area of direct taxation are aimed at sustainable growth, promotion of investment and creation of favourable business environment through a fair and efficient taxation of corporate profits and prevention of the possibilities for tax avoidance and evasion, while having strengthened administrative cooperation and effective exchange of information among EU Member States. In the past few months the issue of digital economy taxation has also become topical. In the area of indirect taxation, at the beginning of October the European Commission will present its legislative proposals for achieving a Single EU VAT Area by means of reforming the European regulatory framework on cross-border trade in goods between Member States and by introducing a simpler, more efficient and fraud-proof system to reduce the administrative burden and costs for businesses and tax administrations and to significantly decrease cross-border VAT fraud.

"As regards the tax topics and files, the priorities will be finally approved in December 2017, after taking into account the progress that has been achieved by the Estonian presidency and after the European Commission tables all the legislative proposals" pointed out Lyudmila Petkova.

The sectoral organisations which took part in the public consultation raised their concerns and committed to send their written opinions on the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency in the area of taxation. The participants in the meeting also expressed opinions in support of the MoF campaign; non-governmental organisations clearly demonstrated their willingness to engage and participate in the process of final formulation of the Programme of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

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