More resources and powers needed for ‘Panama Papers’ Committee to succeed
A year ago today, the Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) was set up by the European Parliament as a result of the ‘Panama Papers’ leaks. Reflecting on its work over the past 12 months, PANA Committee Vice-Chair and GUE/NGL’s Fabio De Masi said:
“The ‘Panama Papers’ Committee of Inquiry has increased public pressure on tougher laws against money laundering, corruption, terrorism financing and the tax loopholes as used by the super rich and the corporations. Given the current revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the cartels of tax havens and the disastrous austerity policies in the EU, the committee’s remit is vitally important.”
“But we have also got to be very honest with ourselves and acknowledge the fact that the competences and resources of the Committee are insufficient in order to live up to public expectation.”
“The Maltese Presidency of the Council has obstructed cooperation with the European Parliament. Witnesses do not show up; those who do are neither compelled to cooperate fully nor to testify under oath. The Commission and the Council still block access to essential documents or redact the most important parts in them. This poses a severe obstacle to our inquiry,” argued De Masi.
“Back in 2012, the European Parliament made suggestions as to how the rights of inquiry - which are enshrined in EU treaties - could be transposed. But for the past five years, the Council and Commission have not moved an inch in this matter.”
“If we want to have real and proper inquiries then we have to equip our committees of inquiry with the necessary competences - just like many other national parliaments or the US Senate. The European Parliament has got to put more pressure on the Commission and the Council,” concludes De Masi.