- Conservative MEPs voted against an amendment calling for companies to publish where they pay their taxes
- Vote comes just two weeks after George Osborne claims to support the measure
- Conservatives have voted against tax transparency five times in the last 13 months
Conservative MEPs today voted against a call for companies in the EU to publish exactly where they pay their money and where they pay their taxes. It is the fifth time in just over a year that Conservative MEPs have voted against such proposals to increase transparency.
On this occasion, though, Conservative MEPs seem to be at odds with comments made by Chancellor George Osborne back in the UK. Two weeks ago, George Osborne said that this measure - known as public country-by-country reporting - was "a step in the right direction towards new international rules for public transparency."
Yet when asked to vote on an amendment to a European Parliament report which called for a "move towards public country-by-country reporting", two Conservative MEPs voted directly against the measure. The measure was narrowly defeated (29 votes against to 26 in favour), meaning that had the two Tory MEPs voted in favour of the amendment it would have passed.
Anneliese Dodds MEP said “This is the fifth time in 13 months that the Conservatives have said one thing and voted another. Despite George Osborne publicly calling for public country-by-country reporting, his Conservative MEPs have consistently voted against it.
“Surely after the revelations of the Panama Papers, they should listen to public opinion and strengthen measures to fight tax avoidance and evasion in Europe. Instead they are voting against these proposals and setting back efforts to bring money back to the UK Treasury.
“George Osborne is either deliberately misleading the British people, or he is extremely poor at communicating with his colleagues in Europe.”
Anneliese Dodds MEP is the Labour spokesperson for tax affairs in Europe and sits on the TAXE and ECON Committees in the European Parliament. She co-authored a report on fighting tax avoidance and evasion in December that was overwhelmingly approved by the parliament.
Note for editors:
Today (26 April), the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) voted on a report regarding the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards mandatory exchange of information in the field of taxation.
A number of MEPs from the Parliament's Socialist and Democrat Group, including Labour's Anneliese Dodds MEP and Neena Gill MEP, tabled an amendment (68), which read: "This Directive is a crucial step in going beyond the OECD BEPS Action Plan, as recalled by the European Parliament in its recommendations to the Commission in order to promote transparency, coordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the Union. In particular, it is to be considered as the first move towards the implementation of a public country-by-country reporting for MNE Groups, such as the European Parliament has referred to on several occasions, through its reports on Directive 2007/36/EC, the report of the TAXE special committee and the European Parliament’s resolution of 16 December 2015 with recommendations to the Commission on bringing transparency, coordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the Union."
Attached to this press release is a record of the Roll Call Vote on that amendment, showing Conservative MEPs Syed Kamall and Ashley Fox voting against it.
On Tuesday 12 April, the European Commission announced its intention to introduce a limited form of public country-by-country reporting for the largest multinational companies in the EU. In response to the announcement, George Osborne said: "This is a great example of the UK winning the argument in Europe. We have led the world in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance. We’ve already implemented the OECD recommendations for country-by-country reporting to improve transparency between business and tax authorities. The Commission’s proposals for public country-by-country reporting released today are a step in the right direction towards new international rules for greater public transparency." https://twitter.com/hmtreasury/status/719918899471458304/photo/
Conservative MEPs voted against similar measures in March, July, November and December 2015 during plenary sessions of the European Parliament. Records of these votes are available upon request.