Just days after the Pandora Papers were leaked, representatives of the Council and Commission convened in a debate in plenary to denounce EU governments for allowing taxes to be dodged due to their ineptitude to properly reform outdated tax laws.
“MEPs unanimously expressed indignation and disgust at the Pandora Papers revelations and criticised governments’ woefully inadequate response for over a decade,” said a press release following the parliamentary debate.
The main criticism that came from all MEPs was that member state governments and the Commission have spent far too long avoiding to close loopholes in the law that have been known for years.
Such loopholes are used by criminals to launder illicit proceeds or finance terrorist activities through the financial system.
A few speakers, however, did point to the minor progress made in improving EU laws and commended the ambitious package of legislative proposals that was presented in July by the European Commission to strengthen EU’s anti-money laundering (AML) rules.
Yet, there was still universal criticism surrounding the irony of finance ministers choosing to remove countries from the EU’s already unambitious black list of tax havens in the same week that the Pandora Papers were released.
They argued that this proved the weakness in this list and thus urged that the compiling process be updated.
The Panama Papers were also referenced a couple of times and one cannot ignore Malta’s involvement in this.
In fact, the island was referred to as a tax haven that is not sufficiently supporting capital and allowing such criminal activity to take place.
Meanwhile, PN MEP David Casa formed part of the debate in which he reprimanded governments and the EU for allowing journalists to do their job for them.
“Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed four years ago because she was exposing corruption and fighting money laundering. Journalists are doing our job and this is not right,” he said.
“Politicians aren’t elected to launder money but to invest in their community,” he continued, most likely referring to politicians like Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi who were alleged to have links with the company 17 Black that was listed in the Panama Papers.
Caruana Galizia also revealed that Mizzi and Schembri had set up offshore companies in Panama.
The MEPs concluded that an international agreement on business taxation must be urgently concluded and quickly translated into EU law.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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