Tax evasion can no longer go unpunished in Europe. During a European Parliament plenary debate on the Lessons learned from the Pandora Papers and other revelations, Renew Europe MEPs made it clear that the more inefficient the European financial system is in the fight against tax evasion, the bigger the legitimacy and credibility gap between EU institutions and governments in the eyes of European citizens.
Through key Renew Europe amendments, the Parliament recognised the importance of investigative journalism and freedom of the press in healthy democratic societies, and calls for stronger protection of the confidentiality of sources, including whistle-blowers.
Scandals linked to tax havens, hidden wealth and offshore companies not only damage the revenue raising capacity of Member State governments, but also undermine the credibility of joint European actions in the current geopolitical context, such as the war in Ukraine. Numerous Russian oligarchs, to this day, continue to evade agreed EU sanctions due to existing loopholes and their alliance with intermediaries and offshore shell companies, thereby shielding their assets from our oversight. This is a bill we cannot afford, so we must introduce more effective counter actions.
It is time for better coordination of information sharing between Member States' tax administrations, increased transparency standards. The Commission must ensure robust enforcement of these shadowy shell companies that help these nefarious players to evade paying tax. In addition, the Swedish Presidency and the upcoming Spanish Presidency of the EU Council should finally make progress on the EU's long-blocked Unshell Directive, which is intended to curb tax avoidance tactics and take a big leap in the right direction.
MEP Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil, Ireland), Renew Europe Group’s shadow rapporteur on the INI report on Lessons learns from the Pandora Papers and other revelations, said:
“It is estimated that up to €155 billion of tax revenue is lost per year worldwide; revenue that should be channelled into funding investments into cleaner energy, into recovering from the Covid pandemic, and into building homes, schools and hospitals for our citizens. The Panama Papers revealed a complex network of concealment, involving many players and facilitators. We need to look at each link in the chain and identify where the leaks are and how to patch these up so that every person and every business is paying what they legally owe.”