e-news 21st April 2016

Welcome to the latest news from Molly, following a week which saw plenty of Green successes in the Strasbourg plenary session.

European Parliament to investigate Panama Papers
The European Parliament is to set up an inquiry into the Panama Papers which exposed wide scale tax avoidance and financial secrecy by wealthy elites. This was just one Green success during the plenary week in Strasbourg. Greens also won support for restrictions on the use of glyphosate and secured new data protection laws. Molly is the Green’s spokesperson on tax affairs. She says:

“The setting up of an inquiry committee is a Green success story. We have been pressing hard for a proper investigation into the Panama papers scandal and the implications at EU level. This is the most powerful tool available to the European Parliament and can investigate breaches of EU law by member states and check if the Commission acted in accordance with its duties under EU treaties. This inquiry will provide us with the necessary resources to expose the actions of wealthy elites and those complicit in supporting them.”

Molly also launched a petition calling for EU institutions to prosecute banks that let their clients hide their assets in tax havens and do not report suspected European citizens to tax authorities. The petition has been signed by over half a million people.

…And new measures to tackle corporate tax avoidance
The EU Commission has launched proposals on public Country by Country Reporting (BCCR). Greens were instrumental in achieving public CBCR for banks and have been pushing for this to be extended to all sectors. CBCR is one of 10 steps to tax justice that Greens are calling for and say it will ensure the public disclosure of where companies do business, employ people, declare profits and pay taxes as well as where they have assets and receive public subsidies. Molly Says:

Public CBCR is a measure that can help create the transparency needed to hold corporations to account. It is another example of where the EU seems to be more progressive than the Tory government. Last year Tory MEPs voted against public CBCR in the European Parliament. Indeed, it is national governments that are holding the Commission back from being more ambitious. The proposals only apply to firms’ with activities in European countries and which generate more than €750 million in revenue per year. This seriously reduces the number of companies covered but the proposals are definitely a step forward.”
Full story

Exchange meeting with German Greens
Molly and her London counterpart Jean Lambert took part in an exchange meeting in Bristol earlier this month involving the Green Party of England and Wales, the German Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) and the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament. The meeting involved sharing knowledge and experiences on issues such as energy, divestment, refugees, right wing populism, youth and civil rights. It also involved a lot of hugs, as German and European Greens demonstrated they don’t want the UK to leave the EU! 

The two-day meeting included an action to highlight Bristol’s terrible air quality, which contributes to the deaths of around 400 people a year, and a very well attended panel discussion on ‘Building a Western Powerhouse’, exploring what we can learn from Germany’s renewable energy transition. This is giving power to the people and in the past decade the share of renewable electricity has risen from 6% to nearly 25%.
Full story

Radio interviews

Interview with Radio 4 World at One
Molly is interviewed about new EU Commission plans to tackle tax avoidance

Radio interview on tax and Panama Papers
An interview with LBC in which Molly explores the issues raised by the Panama papers