The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament is calling on European Union governments to unblock major EU decision on VAT reforms, corporate tax transparency and on a common consolidated tax basis for multinationals. The move follows the November 5 massive disclosure by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) of the so-called Paradise Papers about tax-evasion schemes on a global scale.
“After the LuxLeaks and Panama Papers revelations we get yet another profound insight into the parallel cosmos of tax avoidance, with its own laws for the benefit of a few and to the detriment of many,” said S&D Group spokesperson on the Panama Papers committee Peter Simon.
According to Simon, legislative proposals in the fight against tax avoidance, for more transparency and for closing tax loopholes have been tabled for quite some time now and are supported by the Socialists & Democrats.
“But member states are employing their usual delaying tactics on the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax basis,” he said.
As regards the most recent leaks, Simon said these are most likely only the tip of another vast iceberg.
In turn, Panama Papers committee co-rapporteur and S&D vice-president Jeppe Kofod said: “It’s clear that we need a new structure in the European Parliament to get to the bottom of these deeply worrying revelations. We have done a tremendous amount of work in the Panama Papers committee, but it is obvious that our work is far from done.”
According to Kofod, the most horrific revelation is that most – if not all – of these structures are technically legal.
“We are calling on the Council and the Commission to initiate a global summit on tax fraud and tax avoidance, to be held in Europe as soon as possible,” he said.
A lot remains to be done, agreed S&D Group spokesperson on the economic and monetary affairs committee Pervenche Berès. “Our efforts are undermined by the fact that any tax decision requires the unanimity of the member states. There is still strong resistance from some EU capitals to moving forward on tax policy.”
In a similar vein, the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament welcomed the Paradise Papers as another wake-up call for the international community.
GUE/NGL co-coordinator on the ‘Panama Papers’ Inquiry Committee, Patrick Le Hyaric, said: “Given the number of leaks in the past few years and the depth of the scale disclosed, we hope that all political groups in the parliament will support the recommendation for creating a Permanent Committee of Inquiry into such tax dodging as recommended by the ‘Panama Papers’ Committee.”
Meanwhile, Irish MEP Matt Carthy calls for more decisive action on a global scale: “We need the toughest possible legislation on regulating the enablers and promoters of tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes.”
Carthy also backed calls by the Tax Justice Network for an urgent summit to discuss this global problem.