The idea of a parliamentary inquiry into the LuxLeaks revelations is still on the table. So far, 165 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have signed a Green initiative to establish a committee of inquiry. Another 23 are needed and since some representatives of the centre-right have joined the initiative, the chances of reaching the goal have increased.

After the leaders of the big parties at the end of  last year opted against the introduction of a committee of inquiry, it became very unlikely that the Greens could bring their own initiative to a successful end.

But the signature collection went on and after the Christmas break, the group had gathered 165 of the 188 needed signatures, as a spokesperson of the Green group now confirmed. The support of parties from the right-wing was not welcomed, the spokesperson added.

Among the signatories of the Green initiative to establish a committee were MEPs from the Group of the United Left as well as few from the Liberals and the Social Democrats (S&D).

MEPs from Centre-right on board

Recently also MEPs from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) joined the initiative. Among them, the German Markus Ferber, vice-chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. “He signed shortly before Christmas,” his spokesperson confirmed. Another member of the EPP, Werner Langen, did the same.

Grand Coalition backing the president of the Commission

At the beginning of December, the chief of the Green group, Philippe Lamberts, pointed out “a strong coalition of the unwilling” to establish a committee of inquiry.

By then the leaders of the big groups had  announced that the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in Parliament (ECON) should set up two special reports on tax rulings instead of a committee. But the latter would have, according to some MEPs, more power to investigate than presenting a simple report.

As a matter of fact, the grand coalition seemed to be willing to assure their support to the president of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who could play an important role during the investigations. The reported Luxembourgish tax practices in favour of big companies took place during his mandate as prime and finance minister of the Grand Duchy.

Different views within the political groups

Gianni Pittella, chair of the Social-Democrats (S&D), has sent an email to MEPs in his group urging them not to sign the request for a committee of inquiry. But not everybody in his group wanted to follow this advice. For instance, the majority of the French socialists signed the request.

Although he asked for a committee of inquiry in the plenary of the Parliament, Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt finally turned around and give up his first call for a committee.

This issue is of high public interest and it puts to test the credibility of the political groups, since some have been criticizing tax evasion very loudly, but then appeared reluctant to expose the president of the Commission in this matter.

Is the public confusion wanted?

This could explain the confusion around the institutional choices for a Parliamentarian investigation. Indeed, the Liberals, other than the Greens, asked to install a” special committee” instead of a committee of inquiry. “ALDE had called for a special committee, a proposal that could not reach a majority because of the resistance of the EPP and the S&D,” the party wrote in a press release on December 4.

Now that some EPP members seem to move, we will take up this idea, German Liberal Michael Theurer wrote on his Facebook timeline , accusing Ferber and Langen to play “a double role in order to confuse the public.” According to him, a special committee would have better possibilities to investigate.

Meanwhile, the assessments of which means of investigation would be the most effective, vary from party to party – leaving space for the suspicion that every party, above all, wants to claim the relevant initiative its own.

  • Author: Danièle Weber, Euranet Plus News Agency

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4 Responses

  1. Michael Schmitt

    There are now 179 signatures. And we would expect that the pressure on the spanish Socialists (Apart from the German EPP mentioned, Spanish liberals have signed) will sooner our later work … ALDE btw. never formalised their proposal for a special committee, which would of course be a weaker instrument …

    Reply
  2. Verity Venter

    Why are British Labour MEPs not supporting the call for an investigation into tax avoidance schemes that serve only to further the interests of corporations at the expense of the working poor? Answer if you can! If you can’t, shame on you.

    Reply

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