Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on MEPs and national parliamentarians from across the EU to work together to pressure the Commission and the Council to improve public transparency and accountability. Carthy was addressing MEPs and representatives from the Commission and national parliaments at a conference on the European Semester in Brussels.
Addressing the representatives, Carthy said: “All of us who were members of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry into corporate tax avoidance experienced the obstacles put up by the Commission and the Council when it came to MEPs having access to relevant documents, particularly from the Council’s Code of Conduct group on tax issues.
“Time and time again we were met with stalling, foot-dragging and redactions. There is a real sense of frustration among MEPs about this as these obstacles keep us from doing our job of representing our constituents effectively.
“It’s not only the PANA committee that has experienced this problem. MEPs working on dangerous EU trade deals such as CETA, TTIP & Mercosur, on environmental regulation – on practically all of our work as legislators – have experienced this secrecy in the institutions.
“No doubt many will have noted the results of the EU Ombudsman’s report last week calling for the Council to record the positions taken by the Member States and ensure these and the documents used to prepare for the Council meetings are made public. It is wholly unacceptable, for example, that the Irish government continues to take positions behind closed doors at an EU level that the Irish people are not informed of.
“I’m glad to see that the new special committee in the European Parliament being established to continue the work of the Panama Papers inquiry committee will pay special attention to the Commission and Council’s process of screening and selection for the EU’s tax haven blacklist and list of high-risk third countries under the Anti Money Laundering Directive.
“The members of the national parliaments here have a major role to play in assisting in the push for more transparency and accountability in the decision-making process. The national representatives obviously need to hold their governments to account in terms of the positions they take in the Council and it seems as though there is room for more collaboration between MEPs and national MPs on this issue.”