The European Parliament will today (12 November) hold a debate on the European Union’s response to the so-called ‘Lux leaks’ tax evasion scheme revelations.
Last week leaked documents revealed that Luxembourg had special tax arrangements with hundreds of companies that enabled them to avoid taxes in other EU member states, during the time that Jean-Claude Juncker, now the European Commission president, was prime minister of Luxembourg.
The Greens and far-left GUE group in the Parliament have called for Juncker to appear before the Parliament during the debate. However a spokesperson for Juncker said he will not appear because he has not received any formal request from the Parliament to do so. GUE has taken the further step of starting to collect signatures for a motion to censure the Juncker Commission over the tax revelations.
Margrethe Vestager, the new European commissioner for competition, was asked about the Luxembourg tax issue during an appearance at the Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee yesterday. She said the Commission needs more information about the Luxembourg tax arrangements before it can launch an investigation.
Aside from the tax issue, foreign policy issues will dominate the mini-plenary session in Brussels today and tomorrow (12-13 November), with Turkey and Cyprus, South Sudan, and an association agreement with Moldova on the agenda.
MEPs will discuss Turkish action creating tension in Cyprus’s economic zone. After Turkey insisted on maintaining a presence off the southern coast of the island, government leaders at the European Council meeting in October urged Istanbul to respect Cyprus’s sovereignty over its territorial waters and economic area.
Federica Mogherini, the European Commission’s high representative for foreign and security policy, will address the Parliament on the issue on Wednesday (12 November).
Also on the agenda is a debate on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, where violence erupted last week. Earlier this year the EU announced that it will impose sanctions against individuals obstructing the South Sudanese peace process.
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Last Friday (31 October) the EU’s diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service, said that the EU “is following these events extremely closely and will take appropriate measures”.
MEPs are expected to vote on Thursday (13 November) in favour of the EU association agreement with Moldova signed in June. The foreign affairs committee on 16 October backed the trade deal, with 44 votes in favour and only three against. It needs approval from the Parliament and the member states to be ratified.
The agreement will allow Moldova lower trading tariffs and will also strengthen political and economic integration with the EU. MEPs on the foreign affairs committee said approval from their colleagues would be “a strong signal to the national parliaments” to back the trade deal, just ahead of the Moldovan parliamentary elections on 30 November.
After backing from the Parliament’s budget committee on Tuesday (4 November), approval is also expected of financial support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to workers made redundant in Greece and Ireland. €7.29 million of EGF aid to a Greek fashion company is mainly for training, job-search assistance and career guidance, while the €1.5m aid to an Irish jewellery firm is for career and education support. Member states will still need to approve the aid.