'LuxLeaks' special committee gets to work

Parliament's special tax rulings committee has met for the first time in Strasbourg.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

10 Mar 2015

Parliament's tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect committee (TAXE) was set up as a response to the 'LuxLeaks' revelations, with an initial mandate of six months. It will present its findings to parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee.

Alain Lamassoure, chair of the special committee, said, "we are on an important mission. We need results and we need them quickly".

Despite belonging to the same political group - the EPP - as commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg during the time the country allegedly helped companies engage in tax evasion, the French MEP underlined that, "the task ahead of us is not related to political orientation or the country we represent - we all share the same concern for more transparency and justice".

Peter Simon, a vice-chair of parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, commented, "models organised by member states that encourage tax avoidance are clearly illegitimate. In future, they must become unconditionally illegal".

He explained that the special committee "will assess the situation by hosting hearings with key players, conducting onsite missions and examining documents which are not yet in the public focus".

"We are on an important mission. We need results and we need them quickly" - Alain Lamassoure

The S&D MEP added, "we need to assess whether there are - or were - constellations in which certain consultancies advise the commission and member states on how improve tax systems, and at the same time develop tailored tax avoidance models for companies. This kind of infamous triangle relationship is clearly unacceptable".

Greens/EFA deputy Eva Joly, a vice-chair of TAXE, warned that "the committee's effectiveness will largely depend on how much access it is granted by member states to key documents and hearings with important actors, including representatives from multinational companies or former finance ministers".

Marisa Matias, who is also a vice-chair of TAXE, said, "the 'LuxLeaks' scandal shows the hypocrisy of a European Union that preaches fiscal sustainability and austerity, while at the same time, continues to tolerate and encourage fiscal dumping when it comes to corporate taxes".

ALDE MEP Sylvie Goulard tweeted after the first meeting that the committee's aim was to understand the issues at hand, in order to change the current regulations.

Left-leaning groups were initially critical of the creation of the special committee, as they had previously requested that an enquiry committee be put in place, but this was rejected by parliament's conference of presidents.

The TAXE committee's next meeting is scheduled for 30 March.

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