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09/12/2016

Juncker resists calls to face MEPs over ‘Luxembourg leaks’

EU Elections 2014

Juncker resists calls to face MEPs over ‘Luxembourg leaks’

Jean-Claude Juncker [Euranet Plus/Flickr]

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is reluctant to face MEPs next week, and shed light on whether the secret tax deals between more than 300 international companies and Luxembourg are in accordance with EU law.

The Socialists and Democrats, and the Liberal ALDE group, have called on Juncker to come to the European Parliament next week and discuss the scandal.

>> Read: Verhofstadt calls on Juncker to come clean

But it appears that Juncker has no plans to face the MEPs anytime soon. At the Commission’s midday press briefing on Friday (7 November), chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said, “Yesterday, there have been five or six statements [from political groups] with varied content.

“We will make no comment on each of those statements, but if the Parliament adopts a parliamentary decision expressing the [view of the] majority of the Parliament, the Commission would make available all the information and explanation at the necessary level, in accordance to the demands of relevant services of Parliament.”

http://www.euractiv.com/video/juncker-will-not-face-meps-over-luxembourg-tax-deals-309873

It remains unclear what kind of parliamentary decision Juncker may have in mind, but the Parliament is holding a session in Brussels on 12-13 November, when the issue will be discussed, even in his absence.

Juncker’s Commission won the support of the European Parliament on 22 October with 423 votes in favour, 209 against, and 67 abstentions. A so-called pro-European majority voted for Juncker, including his centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) political group, and of a large majority of the Socialists and Democrats and the Liberals.

>> Read: Juncker vote reveals Socialist divisions in Parliament

Following the “Luxembourg leaks” scandal, only the EPP has not called on Juncker to come to the Parliament to provide explanations and answer MEPs’ questions. In case MEPs decide to vote on whether Juncker should come to speak in the Parliament, it is likely that the EPP would be isolated and outvoted.

Schinas said Juncker will be in Brisbane, Australia, on 15 and 16 November, Saturday and Sunday, at the G20 summit. The issue of fighting tax avoidance and tax evasion will be on the agenda. His program for the working days of the week is less clear.

Background

More than 300 companies, including PepsiCo Inc, AIG Inc and Deutsche Bank AG, secured secret deals from Luxembourg to slash their tax bills, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported on 5 November, quoting leaked documents.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995-2013, has so far declined to comment.

The companies appear to have channeled hundreds of billions of dollars through Luxembourg and saved billions of dollars in taxes, the group of investigative journalists said, based on a review of nearly 28,000 pages of confidential documents.

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