Brussels, 1 December 2021

The main lessons to be learnt from the Pandora Papers revelations and the best actions to take as a reaction were the topic of a hearing in Parliament on Tuesday evening.

The hearing, organised by the EP’s subcommittee on tax matters, allowed MEPs to quiz a journalist of the ICIJ involved in the investigation, a tax expert from the Tax Justice Network, and the European Commission’s Director for direct taxation and tax coordination. Baker McKenzie, the law firm which occupies a key spot in the Pandora Papers, refused to attend, prompting subcommittee Chair Paul Tang to remark that this was “a display of impertinence to the European Parliament and, more importantly, to European citizens.”

Will Fitzgibbon, a senior ICIJ reporter, stressed the importance of not only focussing on tax havens, saying that wealth managers and other enablers are key for tax avoidance and evasion. Without them such practices would be impossible, he said. Moran Harari of the Tax Justice Network explained why it was so important to know the beneficial owner and outlined the changes that should be made to current rules to achieve this. Benjamin Angel, Director at the Tax department of the European Commission stressed that the Pandora Papers imposed on the EU to make its tax haven list more effective, make full use of the existing rules and also address the deficiencies within the EU itself.

MEPs asked the invited experts how best to reform the tax haven list, including by giving more of a bite to the consequences for a country of being listed, and by envisioning the placing on the list of EU member states too. They also asked for more details on how to regulate financial intermediaries better and how the provisions of the 6th amendment of the EU Directive on tax authorities cooperation could be beefed up. MEPs also raised the point that not enough resources are being put into fighting tax avoidance and evasion practices.

You can follow the meeting again here.