Opinion

Containment and tax relief in France, Germany and Italy. And Spain?

Líderes europeos

Emmanuel Macron was the last to speak on the internal economic reconstruction plans of the major countries of the European Union. The Community manna, that 750 billion ready to cover the expenses of the member countries, which will not be easily approved and may run aground and jeopardise the very future of the European club, will necessarily have to be accompanied by the commitments that the various governments will have to make in order to build up their own productive systems, destroyed by the economic consequences of the pandemic in just four months. The devastation forces them to acquire debts with traders, self-employed people, tourist and cultural enterprises, factories in the automotive sector, airlines that are still almost in the hangars due to the lack of demand... The French president has been the last one to give clues about what his recently remodeled executive is going to do, and more importantly, what he is not going to do to boost his country's economy, which is in complete contradiction to what is said and not said in Spain. Macron joins Merkel and Conte in outlining clear fiscal plans to relaunch the economies.

France: encouraging work without raising taxes 

The plans of the President of the Republic, made explicit in prime time and on the day of the National Day on public television (Sanchez despises the Spanish one, he prefers to appear on private televisions related to his administration). The fiscal restraint is his main argument, because he defends that a tax increase would mean hitting hard the consumption and would cause uncertainties on the Gallic economy. Exactly the opposite of what the partners of the government in Spain say. "You can't overcome a crisis like this by raising taxes". It is true that Emmanuel Macron has not dared to make a spectacular announcement of tax reduction beyond that announced by his minister Bruno Le Maire for companies (100,000 million euros), as several of his European counterparts have done personally. But he has anticipated the elimination of tax burdens on young people. 

There is another idea from the interview, even better: the search for enrichment through work must be generated. The comparison is hateful, like all of them, but very relevant. In Spain there are many employees of hotel and catering establishments and other sectors who have communicated to their bosses their decision not to return to their posts after the ERTE, in order to benefit from the Minimum Vital Income for which they receive more liquid money without having to travel, worry or work. 

Germany: protection for families, SMEs and high incomes

The fiscal plan against economic destruction in the Teutonic country is spectacular. More than 40 billion euros of tax reduction, representing more than one percent of its Gross Domestic Product. The main measures will benefit small and medium enterprises, and families that are the engine of productive activity. But Angela Merkel is not taken in by the ideological phobias suffered by other leaders against those with higher incomes, those considered by the Spanish government as "rich" or "those who have more". A rise in the income limit will lead to a reduction in the total number of taxpayers who pay taxes on the maximum income tax bracket, a measure that goes in exactly the opposite direction to the one repeatedly referred to by Sánchez and Iglesias. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz believes that there is a long-term benefit in increasing the level of income from which the maximum 42% of income tax is levied, but he has gone further with a reduction of the consumption tax, the VAT, of three points in its higher bracket and two in the lower bracket. Healthy envy is the norm among German friends.  

Italy: decrease in excise taxes

Guiseppe Conte leads a mostly left-wing coalition government. But among his first measures to stimulate economic recovery after the halt in production in all sectors has been the approval of tax exemptions, subsidies to companies to reduce their contributions, and soft credits to pay taxes. VAT rates are temporarily cut, instead of being speculated on as a rise as in Spain, which is never confirmed or denied. The self-employed also benefit from an exemption on their payment, and cease to be the collectors of State taxes. Anyone would deny that the Minister of Economy, Roberto Gualtieri, is a convicted social democrat, but he is one, and has put aside his personal preferences to adapt his policies to the needs of his country in an emergency situation. 

In the face of this liberalising trend that is spreading among the countries that lead the EU, and that seeks to reactivate activity by means of curbing public spending and feeding the economic actors through the reduction of fiscal obligations, in Spain the Government announces and once again announces tax increases "given the country's situation of debt and public deficit due to the coronavirus".