Proposals to make corporate taxation cleaner and fairer were debated by MEPs today with a vote due on Wednesday.

Drafted by the Special Committee on Tax Rulings II, the recommendations include setting up an EU public register of beneficial owners of companies as well as drawing up a tax havens blacklist.

In addition, a code of conduct for banks and tax advisors and action against the abuse of ‘patent box’ regimes are also in the text to be voted on.

Speaking during the debate, GUE/NGL MEP Miguel Viegas said tax evasion is a problem which can be traced back to the 1980s:

“The scale of tax evasion and fraud is well-known and what this report confirms is just how serious a problem it is across Europe and in all capitalist economies.”

“The report does point out some relevant issues but it doesn’t go into the heart of the problem which can be traced back to the long period of financial deregulation back in the 1980s especially by the governments in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK,” he added.

“Such financial liberalisation and the free flow of capital make tax evasion possible and we must establish some kind of public system of control to stem this flow.”

“And for this, we won’t lose anything by co-operating closely to tackle this problem.” 

Fellow GUE/NGL MEP Marisa Matias had kinder words to say about the report but said efforts to enforce these recommendations are likely to fall short:

“This report has many positive aspects but there are also limits.”

“However, we need to have to more scope to fight this kind of scandal. The Commission needs more instruments at its disposal to tackle it.”

“It is vital that we have a proper tax system in the EU whereby all member states assiduously recover all the taxes owed to them on profits made by companies in their territories.”

“That way we can at least avoid making the budget deficit even bigger in certain member states,” said the Portuguese MEP.

German MEP Fabio De Masi, meanwhile, took aim at the leadership of the European Commission for fostering a culture of tax dodging:

“Amazon, Google and McDonald’s all pay less than 1% of tax whereas every taxi driver in Strasbourg pays more than them.”

“The tax tricks of these multinationals are often legal but criminal.”

“We are calling for an end to 'patent boxes’ and license withdrawal for banks involved in tax evasion. The same goes for tax havens,” he added.

“We will continue to press the Commission for action. But the report is like a beautiful princess hiding a dirty secret. It looks good but it keeps quiet on the Godfathers of the cartel such as the President of the Commission, Mr Juncker.”

“Much like the LuxLeaks trial, this is wrong and we must fight harder against tax evasion and money laundering,” De Masi concluded.  

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