European Parliament missed another chance to take meaningful action on tax transparency

In a crucial vote today on public country-by-country reporting, two European Parliament committees have given up another chance to take meaningful action for tax transparency.

Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on tax, Aurore Chardonnet, said:

“Despite several recent tax scandals and the efforts of many willing parliamentarians, Members of the European Parliament have once again shied away from meaningful action that would have supported tax transparency.

“ By including a key loophole in the future law, MEPs are favoring large multinationals and giving smaller companies and citizens a bad deal.

“Only if we know where the largest companies make their profits and how much they pay in taxes in every country they operate in, can citizens hold them to account. The same goes for ensuring governments do not allow tax dodging. Oxfam calls on MEPs to support real tax transparency at the upcoming vote in the Parliament’s plenary and restore European citizens’ trust in tax systems.

Notes to editors: 
  • Oxfam campaigns for tax transparency because tax policies in Europe have effects in countries around the world, rich and poor alike. Companies must pay their fair share of tax so governments can provide essential services such as healthcare and education.
  • The legislation passed today – known as public country-by-country reporting – requires the biggest companies to publicly declare their earnings and taxes in all countries where they operate. However, it includes a safeguard clause allowing big companies to retain information if they declare the publication damaging for their own business.
  • The European Parliament has repeatedly called for greater transparency of the activities of multinational corporations. MEPs called for including requirements for public country-by-country reporting in the shareholder’s rights directive or in their report investigating the Luxleaks scandal.  The Parliament also is also currently examining the ‘Luxleaks’ and ‘Pamana Papers’ tax scandals in an investigating committee.
  • The liberal and conservative party groups in the Parliament, the ALDE, the EPP and the ECR, proposed and supported an amendment which would allow big companies to retain key information from being published.
  • This vote represents the position of the European Parliament on a legislative proposal initiated by the Commission in April 2016. The Council is currently negotiating its own position and a trilogue should start after both institution adopt their final position.
  • In March 2017, Oxfam published the report ‘Opening the Vaults’, analyzing public country-by-country reporting data in depth for the first time. The report showed that some of Europe’s largest banks report profits in tax havens that are well out of proportion to the level of real economic activity that occurs there.
  • Over 350,000 EU citizens have signed a petition, led by Oxfam, demanding action from their governments to require companies to publicly declare where they do their business and where they pay their taxes. 
Contact information: 

Jamie Osborn | Brussels | Jamie.Osborn@oxfam.org | +32 2 234 1129

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