EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager will lead investigations into reports that Luxembourg gave hundreds of global firms huge tax avoidance deals, an EU spokesman said here Thursday.
European Commission's chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told a news conference that "Luxembourg has a legitimate government that has to provide answers to the investigation opened by the Commission." Vestager will request "the appropriate information, enforcing the rules, as is the duty of the European Commission," he noted.
Schinas faced a long barrage of questions by reporters on the role of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker who was Luxembourg's prime ministers for 19 years, the period when the alleged deals were made. The US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a report said that Luxembourg offered tax breaks to more than 300 international companies, including Deutsche Bank, Pepsi and IKEA. The ICIJ said it took six-months to investigate the 28,000 leaked documents.
Analysts say the position of Juncker who took over his new post only on 1 November risks to be damaged by the revelations.
Commenting on the reports on tax evasion, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said: "I have taken note of the reports and I am confident that the European Commission will check the cases with regard to potential breaches of EU law and will take all appropriate actions swiftly and if necessary." The president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, has called on the European Commission to take strong action against unfair tax practices.
The S&D Group is requesting a special debate on this issue during the full EP session next week in Brussels.
The leader of the Liberals in the EP Guy Verhofstadt said: "The Commission should come to the European Parliament immediately to explain if these practices are in accordance with EU law. It must be made clear, if the set up chosen by Luxembourg is legal or not."