So… some personal news.

After almost four and a half happy years running the European Commission’s Directorate-General for #taxation and #customs, I’ll be moving on to new pastures on 1 May.

Before I go, here are some reflections on the past few years. THREAD (a long one!)
Honestly, it’s been a blast. I’ve had the privilege of leading a truly great team of people in @EU_Taxud. Great expertise, highly committed professionals, and a real family atmosphere, too. A million thanks, #teamTAXUD /2
We have worked very hard on getting the #content right - delivering real progress on both #tax and #customs policy. And on delivering great #digital solutions, too. /3
The first thing I learnt is that #tax is a tough subject to jump into as a mid-career generalist bureaucrat. A whole ocean of acronyms to navigate. And whole world of experts to talk to... /4
At the same time, #TaxTwitter proved to be a fabulous resource. I am very grateful to the many experts here who, knowingly and unknowingly, helped me learn to navigate #tax better. You folks rock. /5
Of course, if you work on #tax policy for the European Commission, you are going to take your fair share of knocks. For going too far. Doing too much. For not going far enough. For understanding nothing. I guess it comes with the terrain... /6
At the same time, there is also a lot of fair play and genuine engagement amongst stakeholders. Dialogue, despite disagreement. I have found this very rewarding. /7
And along the way, we had a pretty productive time. 14+ proposals adopted, the EU List of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, the creation of the #TADEUS network of EU tax administrations, and really much more. /8
Bonus: I also now speak fluent Acronym. We did ATAD (twice), many DACs, quite some VAT. We proposed a DST, SDP and the CCCTB - or was it ACCIS? - all while keeping FTT on life support. And soon we’ll be doing ETD and CBAM, hopefully by QMV... /9
Speaking of which, I can’t leave without repeating that we would have adopted perhaps more, and very certainly *better quality* Directives, if we had been able to act by qualified majority #QMV. /10
Unanimity leads to more complicated, slower and poorer quality outcomes. And it sacrifices the general interest on the altar of national sovereignty. But before you all jump in, don’t worry - I’m leaving! And I accept that views differ here 😉 /11
Now, the world of #customs is very, very different to tax. Much more cooperation, much less competition. Less visible on Twitter, too – although happily that has been changing the past couple of years. /12
We had a very good four years. The entry into force of the #UCC - Union Customs Code - in 2016. The 50th anniversary of the Customs Union in 2018. A new proposed €1.3bn customs detection equipment programme. Very active international engagement. And lots of sniffer dogs! /13
We also led from the front by carrying out a customs #Foresight exercise. Recent events have certainly reinforced the importance of this kind of work for policy makers. /14
One real high point was taking a helicopter ride from Helsinki to the Russian border. Thanks again to @AnttiHartikain1 and @SuomenTulli for fixing that. Over the 4 and a half years I managed to visit 23 of the 28 Member States. /15
I’m especially proud of the work we have done within @EU_Taxud on organisational development. Nurturing cross-cutting project teams. Delivering in more #agile ways. Exploring new ways of working together. For the Commission, this has been #innovative. /16
We also improved our #communication. There were 3 essential steps here. Build a fabulous team (even if it involves pulling resources from policy). Radically empower them (and cover their backs). And let them get on with it (no micro-management). It worked! /17
One thing many people won’t know is that @EU_Taxud also runs a very large IT operation. Indeed the #Digital Delivery directorate is the largest in the DG. These folks are quite simply amazing. The complexity they manage is mind-boggling. Yet they deliver, day in, day out 👍. /18
We not only made enormous strides in developing and deploying the next generation of Trans-European IT systems for #customs and #taxation. We also played with #Blockchain, developed a #data strategy and explored the future potential of technology, too./19
And of course, alongside all of this we have had #Brexit. Pretty much non stop. For obvious reasons, I did not spend a lot of time on Twitter talking about how it feels to be a Brit in the Commission working on Brexit. Though I did crack on 31.01.20.../20
It’s been a strange old time. My standard joke has been that I spend half my time on tax, half on customs and the other half on Brexit… So maybe I’m about to get half my life back! /21
Of course, there is never a good time to leave such a job. One always has a sense of unfinished business. It is especially hard to be leaving in a moment of crisis, when we are not even in the office. #TeamTAXUD is a real family, and having to say goodbye virtually is no fun. /22
That said, I am happy to have navigated TAXUD through the transition into the #VDL Commission. My successor will be named shortly, and she or he will have the privilege of leading the DG through a very busy period. It is in good shape and well-positioned to deliver. /23
But for me, after 26 years and 10 different jobs in the Commission, next month will be another fresh start. I'm honoured and excited to have been asked to lead the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre @EU_ScienceHub from 1 May. More about that once I’m there! /24
For now though, thanks for all the great interactions here on #tax and #customs Twitter, and above all thanks to the fabulous folks at #teamTAXUD @EU_Taxud who made it all happen. It’s a rare privilege indeed to have been able to lead a team such inspiring professionals. /ENDS
PS. I will of course keep tweeting from time to time about tax and customs. I just won’t have to worry so much about not knowing the answers to @DanNeidle ’s questions!
You can follow @stephen_quest.
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