Nick Shaxson ■ European Parliament must set up a committee of inquiry on tax avoidance
In the wake of the “Luxembourg Leaks” scandal, more than 30 organisations from the Tax Justice Europe network have written to members of the European Parliament strongly supporting a proposal from Green MEPs to set up a stand-alone investigative committee of the European Parliament to tackle corporate tax avoidance across the union.
The committee would investigate tax avoidance by corporations and tax laws and rulings in EU member states.
The letter is below. A pdf download of the letter can be obtained from the Eurodad site, here
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
The “Luxembourg leaks” scandal and recent inquiries by the European Commission have brought home the enormously damaging scale of tax avoidance within the European Union which has been facilitated by the tax laws and rulings of EU member states.
As European non-governmental organisations working for greater justice in the tax system in Europe and around the world, we strongly support the proposal which is circulating for the creation of a Committee of Inquiry by the European Parliament to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of EU law in relation to tax rulings and similar measures by Member States, and to make any recommendations deemed necessary for action against aggressive tax planning.
The problem of corporate tax avoidance is not only costing EU member states billions of euros in badly-needed tax revenues. It also drains essential funds out of developing countries which could otherwise be spent by their governments on healthcare, schools and other public services which are vital to the fight against poverty.
Rising public anger against tax avoidance makes it essential that the European Parliament be seen to take the strongest possible measures to counter the problem. A clear political signal needs to be sent to both the European Commission and the Member States that Parliamentarians will hold them into account and will investigate alleged cases of breach of the law to make strong recommendations for future reforms.
An inquiry committee is a necessary first step towards wider reform and we strongly urge all Members of the European Parliament to support it. We believe that any lesser step, such as an initiative report by an existing committee, would not be seen as sufficiently robust to address the huge scale of the problem.
Natalia Alonso, Deputy Director of Advocacy & Campaigns, Oxfam International
William Bourdon, President, Sherpa (France)
John Christensen, Executive Director, Tax Justice Network
Chantal Cutajar, President, OCTFI (Observatoire Citoyen pour a Transparence Financière Internationale) (France)
Caroline Dorémus-Mège, Head of Advocacy, CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France)
Vincent Drezet, Secretary General, Solidaires Finances Publiques (France)
Antonio Gambini, Research and Advocacy – Financing for Development, CNCD-11.11.11 (Belgium)
Francois Gobbe, Coordinator, Kairos Europe (Belgium)
Revd David Haslam, Convenor, Methodist Tax Justice Network (UK)
Giuseppe van der Helm, Chairman, Tax Justice Netherlands
Markus Henn, Policy Officer Financial Markets, WEED (Germany)
Heinz Hödl, Director, KOO- Coordination office of the Austrian Bishop’s Conference for Development and Mission (Austria)
Noel Hodson, Director, Tax Reconciliations (UK)
Martin Hojsik, International Campaign Manager, Tax Justice and Safe Cities, ActionAid International
Frans Mikael Jansen, Secretary General, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke/ActionAid Denmark
Lars Koch, Director of Policy and Campaigns, IBIS (Denmark)
Ondrej Kopecny, Glopolis (Czech Republic)
Jean-Louis Marolleau, Executive Secretary, Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique-Europe (France)
Sorley McCaughey, Head of Advocacy and Policy, Christian Aid Ireland
Niamh McCrea, Attac Ireland
Richard Murphy, Director, Tax Research UK
Martina Neuwirth, Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (Austria)
Morina O’Neill, Policy Officer, Debt and Development Coalition Ireland
Jan Van de Poel, Policy Officer, 11.11.11 (Belgium)
Toby Quantrill, Principal Economic Justice Adviser, Christian Aid (UK)
Indra Römgens, Researcher Economic Justice, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) (Netherlands)
Tove Maria Ryding, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Tax Justice, European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad)
Ales Sifrer, Project Officer, Ekvilib Inštitut (Slovenia)
Annica Sohlström, Secretary General Forum Syd (Sweden)
Alexandra Strickner, Chairperson, Attac Austria
Jacques Terray, Vice-president, Transparency International France
Denis Viénot, Secretary General , Justice et Paix ( France)
Wiert Wiertsema, Senior Policy Advisor, Both ENDS (Netherlands)
Daria Zebrowska-fresenbet, Institute of Global Responsibility (Poland)