Green demands that EU Commission President, Jean Claude Juncker, explain himself to the European Parliament over a huge tax avoidance scam by multinationals in Luxembourg have paid off. Calling on Mr Junker to ‘Act or Go’, the Green Group managed to pressure him into an appearance before MEPs to hear their concerns and respond to the ‘Lux Leaks’ scandal.
Greens argue that the crisis facing Mr Juncker is an ideal opportunity for decisive action and a series of concrete steps on tackling tax avoidance; the Green Group have taken a lead in the Parliament on progressive measures on tax reform.
Green MEP for the South West, Molly Scott Cato, who sits on the Parliament’s Economics Committee and leads on tax policy, said:
“Corporate tax avoidance is depriving governments of the revenue they need to invest in the infrastructure of a civilised society. The revenue being lost would also avoid the need for the destructive politics of austerity. As well as action from Juncker we need to see the UK government treat white-collar crime as seriously as other crime by enforcing its own General Anti Abuse Rule. To do this it is essential to ensure that there are as many government employees investigating tax avoidance as there are accountants employed by the Big Four accounting firms helping corporations avoid paying their fair share.”
Greens are calling for firm action on tax avoidance including enforcement of existing tax legislation, increased transparency in taxation matters and a need for Europe-wide tax harmonisation, including a minimum corporate tax rate.
In response to MEPs concerns, Mr Juncker acknowledged the urgency of acting on tax avoidance but refused to take any responsibility for massive corporate tax avoidance by multinational corporations in Luxembourg. Following his appearance in the Parliament, Dr Scott Cato said:
“Juncker admitted that there had been a certain amount of tax avoidance in Luxembourg during his time as Prime Minister. An understatement to say the least. But he then stretched credibility to the limit by portraying himself as a heroic man of action on tax evasion. His ability to speak smoothly and calmly to hundreds of MEPs, without a shred of embarrassment about how all this happened under his watch, demonstrates a worrying degree of arrogance. But I suspect, with the support of the Grand Coalition, he will have got away with it.”