Tax harmonisation key to regaining EU citizens' trust

Parliament has a duty to make sure Juncker sticks to his promise to put an end to tax avoidance and fraud, writes Emmanuel Foulon.

By Emmanuel Foulon

28 Nov 2014

The 'LuxLeaks' revelations were the Juncker commission's first stress test. Despite the recent turbulence, the president has maintained his seat. But this is not where the story ends. We expect president Jean-Claude Juncker to lead the commission in adopting strong measures against fiscal evasion as soon as possible.

It took Juncker six days to comment on the 'LuxLeaks' revelations - six days during which the commission president did everything he could to avoid the public and the media. He finally presented his defence to MEPs, who were eager to confront him. In the end, we socialists finally got what we had been asking for for so long - a commitment to put the fight against tax avoidance at the heart of European politics.

This case has shed light on an unacceptable situation. The tax rates applied by Luxembourg to certain multinationals - some of which were as low as one per cent - go against fiscal justice and a social Europe able to reclaim its sovereignty within the global marketplace.

We must no longer accept these tax deals, negotiated in secret and with full complicity on the part of certain European governments. Tax evasion and fiscal fraud cost European governments and taxpayers €1000bn a year, yet these practices are still perfectly legal. If Juncker is still trying to figure out where to find the €300bn he has promised for his investment plan, perhaps this is a path worth exploring.

"Tax avoidance and fiscal fraud cost European governments and taxpayers €1000bn a year, yet these practices are still perfectly legal. If Juncker is still trying to figure out where to find the €300bn he has promised for his investment plan, perhaps this is a path worth exploring"

We fully share citizens' disappointment - those who make the most money pay the least. Just like our citizens, we refuse to let highly profitable companies absolve themselves of any fiscal responsibility, while people are struggling to make ends meet and deal with ever increasing taxes and cuts in public spending.

Europeans' defiance has reached a peak, and situations like this one are simply adding fuel to the fire. Juncker himself has said over and over again that his mandate would be the EU's last chance. The president of the commission made several commitments to parliament, and we MEPs must ensure that he sticks to them. One of these commitments was to implement a fairer and more equitable social Europe.

Juncker assigned his commission nominees to the most toxic DGs for them, arguing that poachers make the best gamekeepers. Therefore, the same reasoning should be applied to him. As the former prime minister of a fiscal paradise, no one is better suited than him to set up true fiscal harmonisation between member states. In order to put an end to fiscal dumping, we demand that every member state apply identical fiscal conditions to companies.

If the commission president wants to reinstate citizens' trust in the EU, he must demonstrate unwavering commitment to put a stop to the disloyal competition between member states' tax regimes, and implement a European tax justice. If not, the 'last chance commission' will have failed.

 

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