Luxleaks panel needs more time

Luxembourg’s fiscal administration had allowed major international corporations to avoid taxes through hundreds of special “tax rulings” | Getty

Luxleaks panel needs more time

The special European Parliament committee looking into controversial tax practices says it won’t finish before six-month deadline.


5/11/15, 6:31 PM CET

Updated 5/11/15, 6:36 PM CET

The European Parliament’s special committee investigating EU tax shelters in the wake of the “LuxLeaks” scandal says it needs more time to complete its work.

The panel was established in February and given six months to look at tax rules in various member states before making recommendations for improving transparency and cooperation on the issue.

“It is likely that we will need to prolong our mandate,” said Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP and chairman of the special panel, told reporters at a press conference, saying it would not complete its work by the deadline.

Lamassoure, from the center-right European People’s Party, said his committee needed more time to consult ministers and national parliaments on the issue. “Our idea is not to prolong it for too long,” he said, “but we need to rely on public opinion and media.”

The so-called “LuxLeaks” scandal erupted last November after the International Consortium of International Journalists published a trove of leaked documents revealing that Luxembourg’s fiscal administration had allowed major international corporations such as Ikea and Pepsi to avoid taxes through hundreds of special “tax rulings.” 

The public and political outcry led European institutions to intensify political pressure on corporate tax practices in member states.

The European Commission is expected to submit new measures intended to reinforce fiscal transparency in June. It already presented an initial package in March, including automatic exchange of information between member states regarding special tax rulings. 

But unlike the Commission, the Parliament’s special committee won’t have the power to investigate. It can only issue a number of legislative solutions which will be voted in plenary sessions.

The panel is currently holding a series of public hearings on tax rulings — including one Monday in Brussels that featured journalists from the group that obtained the original documents.

The committee will investigate tax rulings in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It also recently passed a resolution on tax related-issues which will pave the way for further parliamentary work on tax.

“The special committee urgently needs to speed up its work, in particular given the upcoming deadline for the drafting of the report,” said German MEP Michael Theurer, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group. The reputation of the European Parliament and its ability to respond to LuxLeaks is at stake.”  

Maïa de La Baume