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Taxation and Customs Union

Administrative Co-operation and Mutual assistance - Overview

Mutual assistance between the Member States in the tax field has been established for a long time. Mutual assistance in the field of direct taxation has been possible since 1977 in accordance with Council Directive 77/799/EC. This Directive complemented the existing provisions on mutual assistance in bilateral tax treaties concluded between the Member States. However, it was not able to respond to the challenges of the new globalised era. Therefore, the directive was replaced by Council Directive 2011/16/EU (see Administrative cooperation - A new directive in the field of (direct) taxation).

When the internal market was created and the physical border controls were abolished, it was necessary to set up a control system to manage the VAT control of intra-community trade, the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES). The necessary arrangements for administrative cooperation in the VAT field were set up by the Council Regulation 218/92/EC.

Mutual assistance in recovery of taxes, customs and certain fees was established in the Community in 1976, when Directive 76/308/EC was adopted. This directive was extended to VAT by Directive 79/1071/EC, to excise duties by Directive 92/108/EC, and to taxes on income, capital and insurance premiums by Directive 2001/44/EC.


The creation of the internal market with no physical borders has rendered a steadily increased cross border trade, increased mobility as well as the feature of electronic markets. This has made it necessary to continuously modernise the legal instruments for mutual assistance and make cooperation between tax administrations more efficient.

The following documents reflect the most recent update of these legal instruments:

Risk Management

Risk Management is designed to improve the tax administration's effectiveness in dealing with risks. This may result in measures aimed at avoiding non-compliance by taxpayers, or the better targeting of corrective action.

A Guide on Risk Management for tax administrations has been developed in order to provide a common foundation for decisions at all management levels within tax administrations. The guide has been prepared by tax officials for tax officials. It is the outcome of work undertaken by a Fiscalis Risk Analysis Project team since 2004.