GUE/NGL MEPs have expressed their dissatisfaction with the European Commission's 'tax transparency package' during a debate in the European Parliament this afternoon.

Tabled on 18 March, if adopted this draft bill would oblige EU member states to inform each other of their national tax rulings.

Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias said: “The least we can say about current tax policy is that it is inefficient and unfair. What we have seen in the past few years since the onset of the crisis is huge amounts of tax competition and a huge drop in tax revenues from big companies. We have high tax on consumption and on labour but not the same taxes on big companies. This is devastating for the peripheral Eurozone countries.”

She explained that 19 of the biggest companies in Portugal had set up headquarters in Luxembourg and the Netherlands to avoid paying high taxes.

MEP Matias added: “There is nothing new in the package being put forward. It proposes measures that have existed since 1977 and that the Commission still has not implemented. And the so-called transparency and exchange of information between the tax authorities is also a minimum. This information needs to be made public.”

German MEP Fabio De Masi, GUE/NGL shadow on the issue, said: “The Commission Tax Transparency package is a farce in light of the massive scale of tax evasion and avoidance in the EU. Tax dodging multinationals are still being protected by national governments and the EU establishment. At the same time, citizens continue to lose more than a trillion euros a year due to tax evasion and avoidance while being squeezed by senseless austerity policies.”

He continued: “The automatic exchange of information on tax rulings is mostly window dressing. The label 'transparency package' is particularly nonsensical as information will not be shared outside tax authorities.

“To achieve tax justice for citizens, full transparency and public access is needed on tax rulings, corporate ownership and country-by-country reporting. In addition, member states have to cooperate to rule out the possibility of double non-taxation. Financial institutions which repeatedly assist on tax dodging should have their licences revoked.”

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