The European Parliament's Conference of Presidents of political groups today agreed on a proposal from the Greens/EFA group to set up a parliamentary inquiry committee to investigate the Panama Leaks revelations, which showed wealthy individuals and firms channel funds through offshore firms to avoid paying taxes and launder money. A cross-political group of MEPs will now work to develop a mandate for the inquiry committee. Following the decision, Greens/EFA co-president Philippe Lamberts said:
"We welcome this decision and the willingness of other political groups to treat the Panama Papers revelations with the seriousness they deserve. The Panama leaks show we have so far only been looking at the tip of the iceberg of the odious tax avoidance practises employed by wealthy individuals and businesses around the world and Europe. It is clear existing EU rules against money laundering are not being properly enforced and that the EU institutions, governments and authorities have failed in their duties to this end. It is necessary to carry out a comprehensive investigation to ensure the proper consequences follow at EU level. As the EU's democratically-elected institution, the European Parliament has a duty to investigate the extent and implications of these allegations, and the inquiry must get underway without delay."
Greens/EFA economic and finance spokesperson Sven Giegold added:
"It is essential that this committee has a robust and sound mandate, so it has the teeth to carry out a meaningful investigation. Our group has already presented a draft mandate (1), which we hope will provide the basis for negotiation, and we will work with the other political groups to ensure we can agree the foundations for an ambitious inquiry committee.
"It is clear that parliament's investigation into the Luxembourg Leaks revelations still has unfinished business. Whether its work continues under the current format of the existing special committee or whether its mandate is integrated into the mandate of the new inquiry committee, it is crucial that the work of this investigation is completed. The Greens consistently argued for this investigation to be transformed into an inquiry committee, which is the most powerful investigative tool available to the EP, but the top priority must be that it finishes the job. We cannot jump from one scandal to another without finishing the job or we will completely undermine the credibility of the parliament."
(1) More details on the draft mandate presented by the Greens can be found at http://www.greens-efa.eu/panama-papers-15406.html
The European Parliament's Conference of Presidents is expected to discuss the mandate, the composition and the responsibilities on 4 May, with a view to a vote on constituting the committee at May plenary session of the European Parliament.