On 1 January 2013, two new taxation directives entered into force. The first, on VAT invoicing, was adopted in 2010. It aims to cut red tape for companies by treating electronic and paper invoices equally. The second, on administrative cooperation on taxation, was adopted in 2011. It reforms a 1977 directive, extending its scope to all taxes not yet covered by EU legislation, and aims to increase information exchange between member states' tax administrations. From 2015, such exchanges will even become mandatory for certain categories of income or capital (earned income, directors' fees, life insurance products, pensions and property income).

Other decisions are expected as the year gets under way. Barring any surprises, the 27 finance ministers are expected to give the tentative go-ahead to the launch of enhanced cooperation by 11 eurozone member states (including France, Germany, Italy and Spain) on the financial transaction tax (FTT).

As important as they may be, these advances cannot overshadow the fact that many other issues have been going nowhere for a long time.

Cyprus, the previous EU Presidency, has fallen flat on its face on revision of the Savings Taxation Directive and the opening of new negotiations on the issue with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino and Monaco, the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), and the creation of a rapid reaction mechanism to combat VAT fraud. These three issues are not only replete with technical difficulties, but also present numerous political hurdles. There is no guarantee that Ireland will now be any more successful.

"If we have the impression that things are starting to move on savings taxation or the CCCTB, we will try to do something," suggests Dublin cautiously, while noting that, during its Presidency, Ireland will be "European" and will consequently mute its traditional...

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