Plans to set up a committee of inquiry into tax evasion and tax fraud have been blocked by EP President Martin Schulz today, a move which was met with condemnation from GUE/NGL MEPs.

Instead a so-called 'special committee' with much fewer powers will be set up.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “The decision taken by Martin Schulz, President of the EP, on the basis of the legal opinion by the EP's legal service stopped the whole procedure to set up a committee of inquiry. This makes clear that he and the majority of group leaders tried to avoid the strongest instrument the EP could have had. It is also clear that a special committee would not have the same rights as a committee of inquiry.”

“We proposed to work together on a revised mandate and to vote about it in the plenary session at the end of February. But the President did not use this space to move forward and respect the engagement of the 191 MEPs supporting the inquiry committee request.”

MEP Marisa Matias, coordinator for the group on Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) committee, commented: “What is not compatible with EU law is tax fraud and tax evasion, not the mandate of the committee of inquiry. This decision by the Conference of Presidents is totally irresponsible towards EU citizens' rights to know the truth – and it also makes it clear as day that they are running out of excuses in order to protect their interests.”

“With political will, an inquiry committee would have been legally possible,” added MEP Fabio De Masi, who also sits on the ECON committee. “Today's decision blatantly ignores the rights of citizens and ordinary companies to fair and just taxation for all. It also makes it abundantly clear to what extent EU leaders like Juncker, Schulz and Guy Verhofstadt, cater to the interests of big multinationals while inflicting bitter austerity policies on Europe's people. We need to end political and economic oligarchy for the benefit of the majority of citizens.”

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