French president Emmanuel Macron wants to see a Europe-wide corporate tax band – and any country that does not approve should see its aid cut.
In a wide-ranging speech, Macron said he was keen to see the harmonisation of business taxes across the European Union by 2020.
The French leader said the maximum and minimum tax band would “condition access to the European Cohesion Fund”, adding: “You cannot benefit from European solidarity while going against the others.”
And, Macron also said that Britain could yet have a place in the bloc, if it delivered on his vision for a more effective, less bureaucratic future.
Macron said: “In a few years, if they want, the United Kingdom could find its place… In this reformed and simplified EU that I’m proposing, I can’t imagine that the United Kingdom could not find its place.”
Macron – who swept to power in May on a fiercely pro-European platform – was addressing an audience mainly of students at the Sorbonne.
His vision also took in defence, immigration, borders and industry.
“The only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic,” he said.
“At the beginning of the next decade, Europe must have a joint intervention force, a common defence budget and a joint doctrine for action.”
The issue of a European defence force is something the UK is opposed to, believing an “EU army” would undermine the role of Nato.
But it was on finance that his most ambitious visions were outlined.
Introducing an EU-wide corporate tax band would upset low-tax countries such as Ireland, which has kept its corporation taxes low to attract businesses, particularly tech companies, to base their operations there.
In Macron’s view, if member countries refused to support the single rate, they could see the aid they get from Brussels cut.
He called for a tax on financial transactions to pay for overseas aid, expanding a levy already in place in France and Britain.
Finally, Macron said the EU should impose a carbon tax on highly-polluting products entering Europe, as well as on industries that burn a lot of fossil fuels within the bloc.
Once all of these reforms were in place, he said, he could see a future where Britain would once again wish to be a part of the EU.
“We need a Europe that is simpler, more transparent and less bureaucratic,” he said.
“Simple, efficient, protective, the single market should become a space for convergence rather than competition.”