At a public hearing in the European Parliament, Brussels, United Left MEPs declared their frustration with the Special Committee on Tax Rulings (TAXE) and what they saw as a lack of any real progress by the Committee towards protection for whistle blowers and journalists.
GUE/NGL MEP Fabio de Masi, TAXE shadow rapporteur, said: “The majority in the European Parliament is trying to turn back the clock and prevent any meaningful investigation of systematic tax fraud in Europe. Meanwhile, whistle blowers like Antoine Deltour or journalists like Edouard Perrin, (the latter will report to the TAXE special committee today), are being criminally prosecuted. They are threatened with jail sentences for their service to the public, while the EU Commission remains silent.”
He continued: “Every day it becomes increasingly obvious why GUE/NGL fought so hard to establish a fully-fledged committee, instead of the toothless special committee we have now. Even after two months, we have yet to see a single document from the member states. Even worse, the TAXE chair arbitrarily thinned down the list of documents requested. No safe haven will be set up for whistle blowers, nor has Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker been summoned to appear before the committee.
Marisa Matias, GUE/NGL MEP and TAXE vice-chair, commented: “According to a circular by the Luxembourg tax authorities dating from 1989, tax rulings that are mainly aimed at “tax optimisation” are illegal. However, only whistle blower Deltour and journalist Perrin are being taken to court. This is blatant attack on press freedom, right in the very heart of Europe. Furthermore, the EU Commission is now planning a further weakening of protection for whistle blowers in its draft directive on the protection of trade secrets.”
She added: “We regret that the Luxembourg Parliament, with a broad majority ranging from the conservatives to the greens, rejected a motion by the Luxembourg Left Party asking for full cooperation with the TAXE committee. This is in stark contrast to a decision taken by the Dutch Parliament. We expect TAXE to comment on this rejection.”
Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas, GUE/NGL coordinator on TAXE, added: “The proposal by the EU Commission regarding systematic information exchange on tax rulings is disappointing. This information must be made fully available to the public as should country-by-country reporting by large companies with a view to ending close cooperation between finance ministers and large corporations, which is resulting in defrauding the public of billions of euros in tax revenue.”