Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2014-11-12-Speech-3-045-000"

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"Mr President, todayʼs discussion has been precipitated by LuxLeaks and the allegations in the press last week. Firstly let me thank the President of the Commission Mr Juncker for attending today, but with all due respect it is Commissioner Vestager who should be here today discussing these matters. She is leading the Commission investigation into tax schemes in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland and several other EU countries. As a quasi-judicial investigation, I believe we should await its outcome before rushing to judgments or holding a witch-hunt. The ECR was pleased to hear Commissioner Vestager yesterday tell the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) that she would include the leaked information in her investigation and that she would widen the scope of the investigation if it proved necessary. Although as there has been some confusion today on whether there will actually now be an investigation, a reassurance from the Commission is necessary that this is going to be the case. The ECR Group has long argued for further action at national, EU and global level to tackle tax evasion, tax fraud and, indeed, aggressive tax avoidance. People are frankly not willing to accept companies that go out of their way to avoid paying what they legitimately owe. Global country-by-country reporting by companies of their sales and profit is long overdue. Although it is a global problem, the EU can play a meaningful role in this field. At Commissioner Vestagerʼs hearing I specifically asked her what she was going to do to close the ʽdouble Irishʼ tax loophole as it may constitute state aid. She confirmed last month, before all these allegations, that it was firmly on her agenda within the framework of EU competition law. However, let us not forget that tax is a Member State issue. For the EU to play a role does not require more EU legislation or centralisation of powers, nor does it need tax harmonisation. Tax competition is of utmost importance in the EU and it encourages us to remain competitive globally. The solution lies in proper enforcement of existing national and EU systems and through greater transparency and greater international cooperation in tax matters through the G8 and G20 level. I am proud to say that it was my Prime Minister during the UKʼs Presidency of the G8 last year who led these discussions on reporting and tax transparency, and it will be discussed again in Brisbane next week. If Commissioner Vestagerʼs investigation raises questions that need to be answered, then they must be answered here in this Chamber. They cannot be avoided. Clearly this investigation needs to have the trust of the public. They need to know that whatever the Commission concludes is the result of an independent, thorough and public proper inquiry. We should base our actions and debates not on leaks and not on part of the picture, but on a full, independent assessment by our own competition authority that reveals all the facts. The ECR calls on Commissioner Vestager to deliver her investigation as quickly as is feasible but also asks for reassurance today on the independence, the scope and the procedure for keeping this Parliament informed."@en1

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