In the Luxleaks case: only one sanctioned, journalism

(B2) Our colleague Edouard Perrin was before the European Parliament's special committee on tax evasion on Monday (May 11) with his colleague Richard Brooks from theICIJ. However, not all MEPs were convinced Excerpts…

Edouard Perrin before the committee of the European Parliament
Edouard Perrin before the committee of the European Parliament

« It is symptomatic and tragic at the same time to see that, in this case, the only existing proceedings are, to date, are directed against those who discovered the problem and not against the sources (of the problem)” pointed out in particular Edward Perrin. " I really deeply regret that the European Parliament could not go to the end with a real commission of inquiry, and the means that go with it. (…) The first step would be to really have a coherent work between what is happening here and (…) the (future) directive on business secrets ».

« The central problem with Luxembourg is that it presents itself as the authority responsible for the economy, while acting as a tax haven in the heart of Europe. VS'is more damaging than you may recognize, or than palm-lined tax havens on a sunny island explained the investigative journalist Richard Brooks (ICIJ). Luxembourg " enjoys the privileges of being a full member of all major economic clubs such as the European Union and the OECD”. […] The myriad of methods used — hybrid loans, Swiss subsidiaries … and all sorts of weird and wonderful structures — all have a single objective: the effective achievement of non-taxation in Luxembourg. [...] There should be greater disclosure of tax treaties within Europe. It should be completely open, preferably with named companies, but, if not, anonymized, and above all, in the absence of the OECD to provide a comprehensive solution to this issue of international tax evasion, there must be sanctions applied in Europe for those who exploit the freedoms offered by the European treaty. »

On the side of parliamentarians, the tone was not unanimous

German Liberal MEP Michael Theurer (FDP), judges " incomprehensible that a citizen who informs the authorities of an EU Member State about tax evasion can be prosecuted by another EU country, which contradicts any sense of justice ».

A concern shared by Danish Social Democrat MEP Jeppe Kofod (S&D), " A country should not be able to sanction a journalist who revealed this information while there is an ongoing case, it should be impossible in my opinion. I think that'it is really a scandal that Luxembourg makes these accusations against you. » “My impression is that the majority are not concerned about protecting journalists or whistleblowers, but about protecting Juncker” valued Fabio De Masi, German MEP for Die Linke (GUE).

But for Luxembourg MEP Frank Engel (EPP), we must be careful about the risk of relocation. " Some would simply like to close the financial centres. Companies will stay elsewhere (outside the EU). That no one believes Shanghai will stop an activity that can be fruitful and very lucrative for, if we in Europe have decided to drive out the decision-making centers of the companies.

In conclusion, the chairman of the committee, the Frenchman Alain Lamassoure (UMP / PPE), the difficulty is that " within the Union, each of the 28 Member States is someone's tax haven. »


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).