The creation of the European Startup Nations Alliance (ESNA)

The Portuguese government, in partnership with 26 EU Member States, Iceland, and the European Commission, has launched the European Startup Nations Alliance (ESNA) on 3 November 2021.

The European Startup Nations Alliance (ESNA) is a new entity that will support 26 EU Member States and Iceland who, having signed the EU Startup Nations Standard (EU SNS) declaration in March 2021, commit to ensuring their startups have the best conditions to grow at every stage of their life cycle.

ESNA will support these countries’ efforts to become a ‘startup nation’. It will do this through:

– sharing of best practices as set out in the EU SNS;

– providing technical support to countries to concretely implement changes;

– monitoring progress.

ESNA will work closely with the 27 European countries that have signed up to the EU SNS and support them in implementing the 8 underpinning standards:

– fast startup creation and smooth market entry (e.g. setting up a new company within one day);

– attracting and retaining talent (e.g. an accelerated visa process for tech talent from outside the EU);

– stock options (e.g. no taxes for stock options before being cashed in);

– innovation in regulation (e.g. regulatory sandboxes allowing startups to experiment);

– innovation procurement (e.g. removing administrative impediments that would put startups at a disadvantage);

– access to finance (e.g. increasing the amount and diversity of growth capital);

– social inclusion, diversity and protecting democratic values (e.g. incentives to hire on diversity of gender, ethnicity, age and religion);

– digital-first (e.g. all interactions between authorities and startups via digital interfaces).

The launch of the ESNA took place during the second day of the Web Summit in Lisbon, officiated by the Portuguese Minister for the Economy Pedro Siza Vieira.

The ESNA will also support countries that hold the rotating European Council Presidency. It will do this via the ‘ESNA Presidency Board’ which ensures ESNA can align its actions with the priorities of rotating presidencies.


The start-up scene in Washington D.C. – sectors and specializations

Why Washington D.C.?

Washington D.C. may be more well known for politics than entrepreneurship, but the numbers suggest the U.S. capital is actually an underestimated startup hub. The area is home to more than 1,000 tech startups, and it ranks first in the nation for growth in entrepreneurship, according to the Kauffman Foundation. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, Washington’s VC ecosystem more than doubled in size over the span of five years – at least from a deal flow perspective.

Washington D.C. start-up’s ecosystem.

The Washington D.C. area – which includes cities in Maryland (Baltimore, Chevy Chase), and Virginia (Reston, Arlington) – has grown its own unique VC ecosystem. This ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the U.S. in terms of industry. As reported in 2021 (as of September 10, 2021) software has established itself as the top sector of the district’s VC deals. Other main sectors include for example: biotech & pharma, HC services & systems, consumer goods & recreation and commercial services.


Polish connections with Pandora Papers from Polish law point of view

What are Pandora Papers?

The Pandora Papers is a leak of more than 12 million documents that reveals hidden wealth, tax avoidance and sometimes unethical or corrupt dealings of the global wealthy – prominent world leaders, politicians, corporate executives, celebrities, and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC, which has been working with more than 140 media organizations on its biggest ever global investigation. The Pandora Papers was the largest investigation in journalism history that exposed a shadow financial system.

There are files that expose how some of the most powerful people in the world use secret offshore companies to hide their wealth. Already, politicians from 90 countries have been exposed as hiding money offshore and avoiding taxes. The papers reveal the offshore interests and activities. The offshore countries or territories are where it’s easy to set up companies, there are laws that make it difficult to identify owners of companies or there is low or no corporation tax.

Heroes of the publication include former British Prime Minister, Ukrainian President, Czech Prime Minister, Russian President, one of Colombian singers and one of German top models. One of Polish businessmen also appeared in the “Pandora Papers” investigation.

Is it illegal to use tax havens?


Tax deal for the digital age in BEPS problem – the Two-Pillar Solution of the OECD for 15% income tax for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs)

On 08 October 2021 there was finalised a major reform of the international tax system at the OECD which will ensure that Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) will be subject to a minimum 15% tax rate from 2023.

The landmark deal, agreed by 136 countries and jurisdictions representing more than 90% of global GDP, will also reallocate more than USD 125 billion of profits from around 100 of the world’s largest and most profitable MNEs to countries worldwide, ensuring that these firms pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate and generate profits.

Following years of intensive negotiations to bring the international tax system into the 21st century, 136 jurisdictions (out of the 140 members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS) joined the Statement on the Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy. It updates and finalises a July 2021 political agreement by members of the Inclusive Framework to fundamentally reform international tax rules.

With Estonia, Hungary and Ireland having joined the agreement, it is now supported by all OECD and G20 countries. Four countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have not yet joined the agreement.

International community strikes a ground-breaking tax deal for the digital age


New EU VAT Cross Border Rulings procedure – explanations provided by the Polish National Tax Administration

Background information on the EU VAT CBR (Cross-Border Rulings) project

The EU VAT CBR is a project which was initiated in the framework of the EU VAT Forum group and which is currently being implemented by 18 EU Member States (Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden). The purpose of the EU VAT CBR is to meet the expectations of VAT taxpayers who, when planning their economic activities, would like to be certain about the taxation of the same transaction in different EU Member States. The EU VAT CBR is therefore a tool to prevent VAT disputes and aims at ensuring fiscal neutrality. [1]

Cross Border Rulings findings

EU VAT CBR (Cross-Border Rulings) is a new form of cooperation between the Polish Head of the National Tax Administration and VAT taxpayers. Cooperation with the administration of another EU Member State with a view to agreeing on an interpretation of VAT law is carried out at the request of the taxpayer. In connection with Poland’s accession to the EU VAT CBR project implemented by some EU Member States, the applicants are entitled to apply to the Polish National Tax Administration with a Preliminary CBR Application, and after its acceptance by the Polish National Tax Administration, with the already applicable CBR Application. [2] The intention of the CBR proposal is to agree, at the request of a taxpayer, an interpretation of VAT law in cross-border cases with the tax administration of an EU Member State that has joined the EU VAT CBR. [3] There is no fee to submit a Preliminary CBR Application and a CBR Application.