A week ago, Greenland was made news that went rather unnoticed, possibly in the safe knowledge that it is somehow linked to the new normal – the island saw, in one day, the melting of 12.5 billion tons of ice! If we are into comparisons, we look at an amount big enough to get the state of Florida covered under 12 cm thick water layer or the whole of Denmark submerged under a half of meter water blanket. But I think no one is really into this kind of comparisons and let us therefore leave them breezily to tomorrow’s generation (such a fast ice melt was only supposed to occur 50 years from now anyway!)

Maybe when glaciers have shrivelled further and Greenland has become green again, the anecdotic around this casual proposition made by the Americans in the time of Donald Trump to buy the island from the Danes will be better understood. Even though the politicians of the small kingdom were quick to dub the offer as abusrd (which word elicited an absurd undiplomatic reaction from Trump, who cancelled his state visit in Copenhagen), it’s worth noting an article recently published in a leading local newspaper, which explains that in a new, thawing Arctic, Americans will fight to beat the Russians and the Chinese to Greenland at any cost. Now it is hard to say what “at any cost” precisely means. But this is a matter of geopolitics, and it means at least medium term.

For now, as long as glaciers are still around, I will bring up the less visible side of this casual outrage. Once in Copenhagen, after Queen Margrethe’s reception, president Trump would have had plenty to talk about with Ms Frederiksen, the young chief of the Danish government, besides the topic of Greenland. He may have complained about a certain Dane who hates the US more than any person that I’ve ever met. He said that a month ago, he also said it last year while waiting in Washington for the CE chief amid a full-blown trade and tax Transatlantic war – ”your tax lady … really hates us!”. That tax lady is not really the tax lady, but very close to it: Margrethe Vestager, the European Competition Commissioner in the past five years. In such capacity Ms Vestager conducted heavy-handed investigations that resulted in fines of billions, even tens of billions of euros on the American giants Apple and Google over charges of unfair fiscal competition (the matter was in more detail dealt with in my last July article on Atlant-EXIT).

Until recently, Ms Vestager was tipped as head of the Commission for the next five-year term, with the tiny Denmark notably looked upon as among the top five most influential states in the EU. Her appointment never materialised, but odds are high to meet again the energetic Dane in the new Commission (as the firm proposal of her country) in the very same position. The appointment of Ms Vestager would be a clear indication that Europe is not going to give in in the fiscal Transatlantic battle and, even more, that it is determined to speed up, at any cost?, the controversial projects, which are so irksome to its American partners. By this I mean the battle over the revenues of the (American) Internet giants in the form of digital tax, then the battle over the splitting of profits under the new-fashioned European rules using the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB). Both projects were also mentioned in her plans by Ms Von der Leyen, the new President of the European Commission.

In the world as we know it, taxation among siblings (i.e. members of one group) has been dealt with pragmatically, in terms of arm's length prices. But the world changes, taxation changes and battles are underway whose outcome is hard to predict. At least as long as they are waged under the economically preposterous slogan ”at any cost”.

As always in times of crisis, new opportunities arise. Back on our Romanian turf, with the Americans having just reassured us of our bright future, perhaps the Europeans too will want to know more details about how do we play this? For that matter, with some degree of skilfulness we could indeed achieve a status to match our real potential. While we’re in the election season, we may get some answers to the hot matters that should be on our agenda. If it’s not too much to ask, by the time Greenland is green again.

The original version (RO) appeared on the Romanian platform "Contributors", August 2019. By Adrian Luca, TPS