Czech, Polish, Hungarian, and Slovak finance ministers discuss recovery plans and a digital tax

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On Tuesday in Warsaw, finance ministers of the Visegrád Four countries of Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, discussed investments and plans for economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. They also welcomed the agreement on the global minimum tax proposed by the group of G7 countries, although they favor an international solution by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

At the beginning of the meeting, finance ministers Tadeusz Kościński from Poland, Alena Schillerová from Czechia, Mihály Varga from Hungary, and Slovak Deputy Finance Minister Marcel Klimek discussed the current European economic challenges that resulted from the pandemic. They also talked about Europe’s economic recovery with the help of the EU Recovery Fund, which is a financial package designed to help the EU countries to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Alena Schillerová told her partners that the Czech Republic wants to draw €7 billion from the European funds. According to the Czech minister, the country intends to use them primarily for investment projects related to digital and green transformation, education, development, and innovation. The Czech Republic submitted its National Recovery Plan on June 1, 2021, and Schillerová expects the European Commission to approve it by the end of July.

Regarding the current G7 proposal to introduce a global minimum tax, Schillerová said that although she clearly welcomes the G7 initiative and has long preferred a solution from the OECD, the current idea abandons the original intention to fairly tax the growing digital economy.

“That is why I see the global minimum tax as a partial solution aimed primarily at combating tax havens,” she said, adding that implementing global digital tax is a long-term process, and, therefore, she wants to introduce a digital tax at a national level as a temporary step.

An online meeting of almost 140 OECD countries on a specific rate of the minimum corporate tax and other details will take place next week. Details of this meeting will then be sent to the G20 ministers for approval at the Venice meeting.

Representatives of V4 states also discussed a taxonomy that assesses ecological benefits or harmful effects of individual energy sources. The Czech Republic, together with other V4 countries, has been active in advocating the inclusion of nuclear energy among sustainable energy sources as well as the introduction of pragmatic conditions for the use of natural gas. As a result, Czechia, together with Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, initiated a joint letter to the European Commission, in which the countries call for establishing realistic conditions for the use of nuclear and gas in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Title image: Meeting of the V4 Finance Ministers (Alena Schillerová/Twitter)

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