This week in Europe: 20-23 May

As attention turns towards next year’s European Parliamentary elections, Liberal Democrat MEP’s continue to work for jobs and growth, and against some of the more ludicrous bureaucratic excesses…

“EU must get tough on tax” says Sharon Bowles MEP
Ahead of yesterday’s EU Summit in Brussels, the European Parliament backed a common European strategy to combat tax fraud, evasion and havens.
UK Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, who chairs the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said:

It is totally unacceptable that corporate tax avoidance is now the norm in Europe, aided and abetted by aggressive tax planning and tax consultancy firms.
I have been fighting for companies to pay their fair share in tax for many years now and this can only be achieved by much more transparency in how companies prepare their accounts and with much better European and international cooperation.
The European Parliament vote today sends a strong signal to Europe’s Finance Ministers, ahead of the EU Summit tomorrow, that the time has come to clamp down on tax evasion and tax havens once and for all.
Hopefully, Mr Osborne sees that the EU can in fact help the UK in combating a problem that costs the Inland Revenue an estimated £4billion a year.

MEPs demand mandatory renewables target for 2013
Ahead of yesterday’s European Council on energy, MEPs in Strasbourg sent a strong message to national governments in support of renewable energy calling for mandatory targets for 2013.
Fiona Hall MEP, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament and energy spokesperson, commented after the vote:

The 2020 renewables target kick-started the industry and created jobs and growth in a time of economic downturn. We need to keep up the momentum – and continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. It is a win-win situation. 
Putting in place new renewables targets for 2030 will give the industry the certainty it needs to make important long-term investment decisions.
The ball is now in the court of Member States and the Commission to agree on a 2030 renewables target as part of the 2030 framework for climate and energy policies.
The renewables industry estimates that its current growth of 6% a year will slump to 1% if there is no strong political framework post-2020.

Lib Dem MEPs press Commission for answers on olive oil regulation
Lib Dem MEPs have demanded an explanation from the European Commission regarding the decision to ban reusable olive oil dishes in restaurants, and will be tabling a series of parliamentary questions to get the bottom of the matter.
George Lyon MEP, Liberal Democrat European agriculture spokesperson, commented:

At a time when the focus should be on promoting jobs and growth, this latest decision from the Council and European Commission really beggars belief. Banning reusable olive oil jugs would place an unnecessary burden on restaurants and potentially drive up prices for customers.
It now falls to the Commission to justify the reasoning behind this daft proposal and explain exactly how it would be enforced.

Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat European spokesperson on environmental affairs, added:

The Commission claims this is about protecting consumers from adulterated oils, but it appears to be more a case of extending an olive branch to producers in Southern Europe. The decision to impose a blanket ban on all reusable containers is a massive overreaction to what is in reality a very minor problem. I am demanding to know what this will mean in practice and what level of flexibility there will be for restaurant owners.

* Mark Valladares is a Liberal Democrat member of the ALDE Council, and isn’t dead yet…

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.


  • Eddie Sammon 23rd May '13 - 8:38am

    Sharon Bowles makes my blood boil:

    “It is totally unacceptable that corporate tax avoidance is now the norm in Europe, aided and abetted by aggressive tax planning and tax consultancy firms.”

    It is only the norm because politicians have set the rules to allow it to be the norm.

    What does she think a tax adviser’s job is? Should very good tax advisers be banned and only mediocre ones allowed?

    The EU set the rules to help tax avoidance did it not?

    Also, let’s see Sharon’s expenses, does she claim what the rules say she can or does she refuse to take as much as she is legally entitled to?

    Politicians blaming others for poor tax rules is disgusting.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd May '13 - 8:42am

    I want to highlight that again: “aided and abetted by aggressive tax planning and tax consultancy firms”

    What on earth does she think a tax consultancy firm’s job is? She needs to be deselected prompto. I’ve heard she’s not running in 2014 anyway, thank heavens for that. She also was happy to commit practical treason by loving the EU City choking rules.

  • Eddie. Sharon Bowles is standing down next year.

    She knocked on doors for me in my ward when I was elected in 2010, and contributed to a gain right at the top end of expectations – I can’t comment on the issues you’ve raised but I owe her a debt of gratitude.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd May '13 - 2:40pm

    I am sure she did tpfkar, but it is not the first time I have heard politicians and journalists using criminal language about tax advisers and corporations and I think it’s entirely unfair, it just spreads hate amongst society. If they want to use criminal language then take them to court. Especially considering politicians have played a part in this for years.

    Yes I am fully aware that there are aggressive tax avoidance schemes, packed up and flogged to people, but these make up the minority of tax avoidance and often don’t work anyway. They are just like high risk – high reward investments for people getting involved in them, but their use is on such a small scale it hardly deserves mainstream attention.

    The government have introduced a general anti avoidance rule but I don’t agree with this. As long as there are tax laws there will always be people who try to push them to the limit, these will always be in the tiny minority so they should just be left to try their luck with the courts.

  • Giles Goodall 24th May '13 - 10:33am

    @Eddie: As you say yourself, I think Sharon was referring to aggressive practices and schemes, not casting aspersions over the profession as a whole. You’ll be pleased to know Sharon publishes her own expenses fully online, as do all our MEPs I believe:

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