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27/07/2016

Juncker emerges stronger from Luxleaks censure motion

EU Priorities 2020

Juncker emerges stronger from Luxleaks censure motion

Jean-Claude Juncker

[Euranet Plus/Flickr]

The European Parliament rejected a motion of censure against Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s team today (27 November), the result being better than the one he obtained when the Commission was initially voted on, two weeks before the Luxleaks scandal erupted.

Without surprises, MEPs rejected the censure motion proposed by the far-right EFDD group and far-right non-attached MEPs, with 461 votes against, 101 in favour and 88 abstentions. Over the motion censure debate held on Monday, it became clear that the mainstream political groups will support him, in spite of his role in controversial corporate tax avoidance schemes during his long tenure as prime minister of Luxembourg.

>> Read: Juncker set to survive censure motion as MEPs trade insults

The surprise is that this time, Juncker obtained wider support than on 22 October, when MEPs approved his Commission, two weeks before the Luxleaks scandal erupted.

On 22 October, the Juncker Commission received 423 votes in favour, 209 against, and 67 abstentions.

Today’s vote indicates that the far-right didn’t get support even from the extreme left, which unsuccessfully tried to organise a censure motion itself.

>> Read: Leftist group gathers MEP signatures to oust Juncker Commission over Luxleaks

The vote also confirmed what Juncked had himself said about his chances to receive approval by MEPs.

Asked by EurActiv on 12 November if he believed that he would still have been appointed as candidate – the so-called ‘Spitzenkandidat’ – of his political group for the Commission’s top job, if the facts of the scandal had been known, Juncker confidently asserted “Yes”. 

>> Read: Juncker breaks cover on Luxleaks

In order to dismiss the Commission, under Parliament’s rules, the motion would have needed to obtain a double majority: two-thirds of votes cast, and a majority of MEPs, that is, 376 votes.

Positions

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder (UK) commented the fact that UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who proposed the motion along with MEPs from Marine Le Pen's Front National, was not present for the vote.

"We all know UKIP MEPs are notorious for doing very little work, but this time Nigel Farage has failed to turn up and vote on his own motion.

"This shows that this proposal was never anything more than a shameless media stunt.

"While UKIP clown around, hard-working MEPs are determined to hold Juncker and the Commission to account by holding an in-depth and independent inquiry." 

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.

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.

Further Reading