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Πέμπτη, 23 Νοεμβρίου 2017 23:50

Ana Gomes: Our proposals on counter fight money laundering have been blocked in the European Council

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You are the Vice-chairwoman of the Committee on the application of the law on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion. Recently we saw another revelation about bank accounts and ghost companies in tax havens (paradise papers). Do you believe that EU has an adequate legislation on dealing with money laundering? Should we expect in the near future a stricter legislation on black money, tax avoidance and tax evasion?

The current legislation in place is the 4th Anti-money Laundering Directive; we are currently in inter-institutional negotiations to revise that instrument and, hopefully, improve it. Since shell companies and trusts are common ways used to evade taxes and hide/launder the proceeds of crime,  one of the crucial points and demands by Parliament is that we set up central registers of beneficial owners of companies and trusts, ensuring public access to the information. The Parliament also proposed an obligation for foreign companies (i.e. any offshore company) that enters into business relationships in the EU to register their beneficial owner in our central registers. Unfortunately, both these points continue to be refused by the Council of Member States.
 
Further, we are working on several fronts to fight tax avoidance and evasion. Parliament continues to fight for public country-by-country reporting for big multinationals, something that has been blocked in Council as well, and the Commission has issued several legislative proposals which the Parliament certainly will support – from the obligation for intermediaries to disclose complex tax schemes to tax administrations to the proposal on CCCTB - Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base.
 
Differences in tax systems amongst EU countries set up the conditions for facilitating tax evasion and the use of complex schemes for tax avoidance. Why is there no progress in harmonization of the national tax laws in the EU and the creation of a federal tax system and what will happen in the coming years on this issue?
 
Because Member States do not want to let go of their exclusive competence in tax matters, many are captured by the sort of entities which provide this sort of financial services, and many profit from that sort of tax competition in the EU. They do not understand, though, that in the long term, this rationale harms the internal market, the convergence of our economies and the confidence of citizens in the European project.

Terrorism is a real threat to the EU. Should we expect a more strict legislation on terrorism in the coming years and what might that mean for freedoms and civic rights?
 
I think further legislation on terrorism is not necessary. What we need is implementation of coherent cross sectoral policies in the internal and external fronts, including social inclusion policies to prevent radicalization - policies which must be set out and coordinated at the national and European levels. Information exchange among law enforcement authorities and reinforcing quality of intelligence analysis require better equipped agencies, able to meet cyber outreach challenges while respecting fundamental rights of citizens. We need to invest in that. Ensuring anti-money laundering controls so that EU financial and tax loopholes are not explored for terrorist purposes must also be high in our agenda. All of this requires political will, within the legislative framework that we already have.

Published on CNN Greece 23-11-2017

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