Measures aimed at providing automatic data exchange between EU tax authorities to tackle money-laundering, tax evasion, organised crime and funding for terrorism have been overwhelmingly adopted by MEPs in Strasbourg today.

This comes in the wake of the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal and these proposals would enable and allow member states to share information on bank accounts, interest income and dividends.

GUE/NGL’s Miguel Viegas opened the debate on behalf of the group, and welcomed the proposals but cautioned:

“It goes without saying that we support all measures that ensure better access to information and better co-operation between tax administrations and member states.”

“But when it comes to fighting against money-laundering, we should not delude ourselves that we can leave this solely to the diligence of private companies and the financial system.”

“There have been legal instruments set up to favour the liberalisation of the economy. These allow major multinationals which are too big to fail to channel most of the illegal funds. They are the ones calling the shots – not the EU institutions!”

“Fraud, tax evasion and money-laundering are the visible face of the neoliberal economy and are inseparable from the capitalist system. This has to change,” the Portuguese MEP said.

Danish MEP Rina Ronja Kari also welcomed the proposals but said much more is needed:

“If we’ve learned anything from the leaks on tax havens it is that money-laundering thrives in the dark. But we have ‘openness’ at our disposal and the transparency of our tax payments being made public.”

“But more can still be done – such as information on beneficial owners being made public, for example.”

“Many are still reeling from these tax haven scandals and we have a deficit of tax revenue. Effective tools to combat money-laundering and evasion are therefore essential,” argued Kari.

Finally, Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos said although these proposals are very important, he expressed concern over the breach of privacy and personal data:

“We’ve spent many years dealing with the economic crisis and the EU is finally trying to put an end to this vicious circle of corruption and lack of transparency. And thanks to better technology, all these are possible now.” 

“However, there are certain things that we cannot agree with when it comes to the automatic exchange of information – this is a violation of the fundamental rights of European citizens!”

“We must ensure that those rights are always respected and that a balance is struck between the interests of society as a whole and the protection of personal data,” concluded Chrysogonos.

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