Left MEPs to use new committee to pressure Commission on tax dodging
A special European Parliament committee will look into the fallout from the ‘Paradise Papers’ leaks, following an overwhelming vote in Brussels today.
The TAXE3 committee will last for 12 months and its mandate will focus on tax avoidance as well as tax evasion and money laundering.
It will also aim to finish the work that began under the TAXE 1 and TAXE 2 special committees, as well as the recommendations set out by MEPs who worked on the ‘Panama Papers’ inquiry.
One glaring omission from the TAXE 3 mandate is protection for whistleblowers. Of course, this comes just days after the twin-murders of the Slovak investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak, and his girlfriend, Martina Kušnířova. Kuciak’s final, unfinished piece looked into Italian mafia’s links with the incumbent Slovak government.
Their murders took place just months after the assassination of the Maltese investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Left MEPs had also hoped that structural issues that allow tax havens to proliferate amongst EU member states like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus would be addressed.
Similarly, the EU principle of promoting the free movement of capital and investments across the bloc has allowed tax avoidance to continue unabated.
The TAXE 3 committee will be comprised of 45 members including 3 full GUE/NGL members, and 3 substitutes.
Commenting on the vote, Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas said:
“The work of the various committees raises the need to further question the fundamentals of the current economic system based on the total liberalisation of capital movements.”
“We fully support the setting up of this TAXE 3 committee as it’ll give us the chance to denounce the complicity of the richer nations, to mobilise the citizens for a fairer distribution of wealth, and an end to the impunity for the multinationals,” he said.
For German MEP Martin Schirdewan, the murders of Caruana Galizia, Kuciek and Kušnířova have made the mandate of the TAXE3 committee more important than ever:
“The abominable murders of the two investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak - and his girlfriend, Martina Kušnířova - in the past months show that organised crime still holds power and influence in certain parts of the EU. It is this laxity in anti-money laundering rules and opacity that help gangsters to conduct their criminal activities.”
“What we need for a fair tax system is one that encompasses transparency; a tax system that taxes economic activity where it takes places and with dissuasive sanctions," he said.
Marisa Matias MEP - who was the Vice Chair of the TAXE 1 and TAXE 2 committees - also said:
“We don't need any more revelations or papers to tell you how ‘leaky’ our tax rules are! And these leaks are always dripping into the same old wealthy people’s pockets!”
“We need concrete measures that can truly guarantee ordinary people's interests: equity and fiscal justice are some of the basic principles of democracy. This committee is our last chance to move ahead in bringing about tax justice,” the Portuguese MEP added.