Index 
 Föregående 
 Nästa 
 All text 
Debatter
Onsdagen den 14 juni 2017 - Strasbourg Reviderad upplaga

16. Uppföljning om Panamadokumenten och rättsstaten på Malta (debatt)
Anföranden på video
PV
MPphoto
 

  Der Präsident. – Als nächster Punkt der Tagesordnung folgt die Aussprache über die Erklärungen des Rates und der Kommission zu Folgemaßnahmen zu den Panama-Papieren und zur Rechtsstaatlichkeit in Malta (2017/2694(RSP)).

 
  
  

PRESIDENZA DELL'ON. ANTONIO TAJANI
Presidente

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Helena Dalli, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, (inaudible few words) Presidency of the Council. As you know, the fight against tax evasion, fraud and avoidance is a common EU goal that has been constantly highlighted by the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council and the Commission. Our Presidency has placed this issue amongst our top priorities for the Council’s agenda.

To summarise our achievements in a nutshell, let me mention the following: the Council has completed work on Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive 2, as well as on defining criteria to establish a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions.

Agreement has also been reached on double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms. All these lost years represent important cornerstones of EU action in the area of fighting tax evasion, fraud and avoidance. Going into more detail as regards the particular pieces of legislation, let me stress that Anti-Tax Avoidance Directives 1 and 2 provide for a comprehensive framework of anti-abuse measures aimed at ensuring that taxation will occur where value is created. As a result, the anti-base erosion and profit-shifting measures which have also been given an impulse by the G20 and the OECD are now translated in the EU into a binding instrument. In several aspects the Council went even further than the basic OECD recommendations.

Furthermore, the work of the Code of Conduct Group on business taxation is continuing at considerable pace. One of its current main tasks is to finalise the process of establishing the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. We also reached an agreement last month on the directive on double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms, which will considerably enhanced tax certainty by making alternative dispute resolution mechanisms binding, faster and more efficient. Finally, transparency and exchange of information have also been considerably improved. Within just one year the Council revised the Directive on Administrative Cooperation twice. These revisions are aimed to ensure the obligation for multinational companies to report key tax information on the amount of revenue, on profit before income tax and on income tax paid in each country where they do business.

They also now allow tax authorities to access the information in relation to money laundering. I thank you very much for your attention.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta. – Mr President, I would like to start by expressing my government’s solidarity with the British people on this morning’s fire and also our solidarity with our American colleagues following the shootings in Virginia just some time ago. Thank you for being so kind to invite me over to this debate. I will structure my intervention two-fold: I will start by, at the start of this debate, making some points on the progress on the rule of law which has been achieved in Malta over the past few years, then I will be looking forward into devoting most of the time later on into answering questions that colleagues will be putting over.

Let me refer to a few points on the rule of law at the beginning of this debate. To brief you on the improvements that have been made in my country over the past few years, one of the first bills which we presented as a government was that which removed the time-barring that existed on acts of corruption by politicians and those holding public office. We were the first government in Malta that introduced such legislation, which will hold all politicians and public officers to account, not only today but throughout our whole life-time, should any shred of evidence crop up linking any politician – past, present or future – to acts of corruption. As such, no politician will be able to escape the long arm of justice throughout their life-time. I believe that is a unique piece of legislation at EU level.

Another piece of legislation we put forward and enacted was the Whistleblowers Protection Act. This has been deemed by a number of Members of this House, like Benedek Jávor and Julia Reda – champions in the fight to protect whistleblowers – as a benchmark for other European Union Member States and a good basis for a future European whistleblowers directive. Since the law came into force in 2013, we had no less than 29 reports that have been lodged under the protection of the Maltese Whistleblowers Act.

Also, after years of damning reports by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (Greco) putting Malta on the blacklist of political party financing, we introduced an act regulating party financing, which was not only important but necessary and in our national interest. Our law was introduced in 2015 and led Greco to certify that Malta shifted from a country contravening the institution’s recommendations on fighting corruption to one of those in line with its main recommendations.

In 2016 we also change the method of appointment of members of the judiciary, becoming the first government to forgo such powers. The executive is now bound to make appointments to the bench from a pool of lawyers that have been previously approved by a judicial appointments committee, rather than having government appoint magistrates and judges directly, without the need of any prior consultation. The judicial appointments committee is made of eminent persons, including the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and the President of the Chamber of Advocates, amongst others.

Mr President, we did all this in just four years, but we intend to do even more. In fact, one of our pledges over the next five years is that of discussing the removal of any parliamentary immunity in Malta, introducing a transparency register at national level – following our work as presidency – to introduce a European Transparency Register, and the introduction of a new code of conduct for all those holding public office.

As I said in the beginning, I am not going to make a long introductory speech; I am interested in listening to the criticism and the points raised by the Members of this House – my former colleagues – and then I will answer accordingly.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Pierre Moscovici, membre de la Commission. – Monsieur le Président, Madame la Présidente du Conseil, Monsieur le Premier Ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, il y a un an, les «Panama Papers» s’ajoutaient aux scandales précédents et confirmaient l’existence d’un système d’évasion fiscale offshore d’ampleur mondiale.

Ces révélations ont suscité, à juste titre, une indignation publique et une condamnation politique. À l’époque, la Commission et moi-même vous avions fait une promesse, qui était de profiter de l’élan créé par ces révélations pour faire reculer l’évasion fiscale. J’ai tenu parole, la Commission a tenu parole, le Conseil nous a accompagnés.

Le président Juncker l’a souligné devant vous il y a deux semaines: nous avons réalisé des progrès sans précédent sur ce front en un temps record. Nous l’avons fait avec votre appui constant, exigeant, et ces succès sont donc aussi les vôtres.

Des révélations récentes concernant des systèmes fiscaux dans plusieurs États membres ne font que confirmer l’absolue nécessité de l’action que nous avons mise en œuvre et que nous continuons à mettre en œuvre pour que la fiscalité dans l’Union européenne et dans le monde soit plus transparente, plus juste, plus efficace.

Le paysage qui émerge, aujourd’hui, à l’issue de ces deux ans d’activisme en matière fiscale est profondément refaçonné. La coopération automatique entre États membres sur les rescrits fiscaux et sur les informations fiscales des multinationales est aujourd’hui la règle. Le secret bancaire a disparu en Europe, y compris chez nos voisins hors de l’Union européenne.

Nous avons créé un filet de protection contre l’évasion fiscale avec l’adoption de directives sur la lutte contre l’évasion fiscale (ATAD 1 et ATAD 2).

Nous disposons désormais de mesures contraignantes pour lutter contre les formes les plus courantes d’optimisation et de planification fiscales agressives, ainsi que d’une nouvelle stratégie extérieure pour que la bonne gouvernance fiscale soit également respectée au-delà de notre marché unique.

Le chemin parcouru, vous le voyez, est absolument considérable. En l’espace d’un an seulement, nous avons proposé le renforcement des règles sur la lutte contre le blanchiment de capitaux, relancé le projet d’assiette commune consolidée pour l’impôt sur les sociétés, obtenu l’accord du Conseil sur les procédures de règlement des différends fiscaux – merci à la présidence maltaise –, et lancé le processus pour créer une liste européenne de paradis fiscaux – nous y avons également bien travaillé avec le ministre des finances Edward Scicluna.

La transparence des informations sur les bénéficiaires effectifs constitue une priorité cruciale pour lutter contre le blanchiment d’argent, la corruption et l’évasion fiscale. Nous avons proposé d’améliorer l’accès aux informations sur les bénéficiaires effectifs en Europe et nous poussons cette priorité au niveau international.

Avec votre indispensable appui, l’Europe devrait aussi avoir bientôt un mécanisme de publication d’informations pays par pays, avec l’idée que les multinationales rendraient publics leurs activités, leurs gains et l’impôt payé pays par pays, en Europe.

Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, Madame la Présidente du Conseil, Monsieur le Premier ministre, ces progrès doivent à présent être confortés et approfondis.

Il est temps de passer à l’étape suivante: quelle est-elle?

Premièrement, je proposerai de renforcer nos moyens de défense contre les abus en matière fiscale: ce sera l’objet de ma proposition sur les intermédiaires, que je sais très attendue par cette assemblée. Certains de ces intermédiaires, les banques, les avocats, les conseils, les consultants – il ne s’agit pas de mettre ces professions en accusation –, encouragent, dans une partie de leurs activités, les abus, en tirent un profit ou les facilitent.

Les «Panama Papers» ont mis en lumière le rôle central de l’optimisation fiscale. La commission PANA, qui travaille ici au Parlement européen de manière remarquable, met aussi l’accent sur ce point.

Faire refluer l’évasion fiscale implique de faire la lumière sur ce secteur.

Ma proposition sera fondée sur des principes simples – transparence, coopération, échange d’informations – que nous avons mobilisés lors de nos précédentes propositions. Vous les connaissez bien à présent.

Avec cette initiative, les arrangements transfrontaliers d’optimisation fiscale devront être portés à la connaissance des États membres bien avant qu’ils ne puissent affecter leurs recettes fiscales, et ainsi les administrations fiscales seront en position de détecter ou de bloquer tout abus éventuel.

D’autre part, même si ce n’est pas le cas pour Malte, beaucoup de scandales récents en matière d’évasion fiscale ou dans d’autres domaines ont été révélés grâce au courage des lanceurs d’alerte. Ils ont mis en péril leur carrière, leur mode de vie, leur liberté parfois. Ils doivent être protégés. La Commission étudie les pistes d’actions possibles en vue d’une initiative dans ce domaine. Je sais que le Parlement européen le souhaite.

La deuxième initiative que je prendrai s’attaquera à la fraude à la TVA: c’est un enjeu majeur. Cette fraude représente, pour la TVA transfrontalière, 50 milliards d’euros de pertes par an pour nos Trésors publics. La tâche n’est pas terminée, nous avons fait des efforts ces deux dernières années. Ce Parlement en a parfaitement conscience. Une étude récente de la commission PANA révèle qu’Europol aurait identifié 388 dossiers dans les «Panama Papers» qui seraient connectés à des opérations de fraude à la TVA. On parle ici d'une fraude massive, portée qui plus est par des réseaux criminels et servant peut-être au financement du terrorisme.

Aujourd’hui, la fraude à la TVA, pour ainsi dire, c’est un jeu d’enfant, c’est ce qu’on appelle la fraude carrousel. Les failles du système TVA combinées à la facilité déconcertante de drainer les fonds détournés vers des comptes bancaires hors de l’Union européenne rendent cette ressource fiscale extrêmement vulnérable à la fraude, et c’est le cas en particulier, je l’ai dit, pour les opérations transfrontalières.

La solution que nous allons proposer, c’est d’aller vers un régime définitif de TVA, en laissant les opérations intra-Union européenne être traitées exactement comme les transactions nationales dans l’État membre de destination à travers un guichet unique, ce qui permettra de réduire drastiquement la fraude transfrontalière mais aussi de simplifier les obligations de TVA pour les entreprises, parce que, bien sûr, c’est une mesure de simplification qui permet aux entreprises de travailler de manière plus efficace.

Dans ce contexte, je souhaite aussi vous annoncer que des actions importantes sont en préparation pour lutter contre la fraude à la TVA, donc dans le domaine de la justice pénale européenne, après la finalisation de la nouvelle directive sur les infractions portant atteinte aux intérêts financiers de l’Union européenne, qui incrimine également la fraude à la TVA.

Le 8 juin dernier, nous sommes parvenus à un accord politique du Conseil sur la création – et c’est majeur – du Parquet européen en coopération renforcée, soutenu par 20 États membres et que d’autres pourront rejoindre plus tard.

J’espère pouvoir compter encore une fois sur le soutien sans faille du Parlement européen pour cette initiative. J’ai coutume de dire que nous sommes vraiment du même camp dans ce combat, que je sais très largement transpartisan et partagé sur tous les bancs de cette assemblée.

En effet, ces initiatives viennent compléter les instruments que nous avons mis en place ensemble depuis deux ans pour faire reculer la fraude et l’évasion fiscales, ce qui reste un objectif partagé. Cela contribuera à ce que l’Union et ses États membres continuent d’être à l’avant-garde de cette bataille pour une fiscalité plus juste, qui est une bataille mondiale menée dans le cadre du G20 et de l’OCDE.

Enfin – et j’en termine là –, il est important que la justice puisse faire son travail en toute sérénité et en toute indépendance, et vous comprendrez donc que je ne puisse faire aucun commentaire sur les enquêtes en cours, qui sont du ressort de la justice.

Voilà, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Premier Ministre, Madame la Présidente du Conseil, ce que je voulais vous dire au sujet de notre combat toujours renouvelé contre les abus en tous genres en matière fiscale.

Je remercie encore une fois le Parlement de son soutien qui nous est indispensable à tous les instants dans ce très difficile, mais très important dossier.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Manfred Weber, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, I welcome you, Prime Minister Muscat, and first of all as a democrat I want to congratulate you on your re-election. There was strong, tough, democratic competition in Malta, you won, and I wish you all the best in the interest of the country and in the interest of our European Union.

In the interest of the European Union you showed that you are from time to time ready for change, ready to rethink your own position. I bring to our mind again that you were not previously in favour of Malta becoming a member of the European Union. Today you know that membership is important for Malta and contributes to the interests of Malta. Malta is benefiting from this and today it is obvious that this is a success story. This example shows that you are ready to rethink your position from time to time.

But in today’s debate, whose subject is the Panama papers linked to Malta, the question is not so much what we are doing against fraud and what we are doing for the rule of law; the most important question is: why is there still a minister in your cabinet, the only minister in the European Union, who is named on the Panama list? That is the substance of the debate today. That is what we want to ask you, because we have a lot of discussion points where can really work together for the future of Europe, but that is the substance of the debate. You won the election, but the questions are still on the table and what we ask from you, in your capacity as today’s President of the European Council, as the presidency of the Council of the European Union, is clarification of this open question.

You said a lot about what you did on paper on legislation to guarantee the rule of law in Malta. I was hoping that you would come back today to Strasbourg to the European Parliament and could show us what the result of this legislation is, what are you doing to create really strong and independent structures, and what the outcome of this is. Legislation, what is on paper, is one thing, but implementation is something else. What does this mean in reality? What is the outcome of these activities? I did not think that you showed a real readiness to give us an opening, an inside look into what is happening in your party, in your government. I would ask you to do so. I think that is a chance for you, in your second approach here in the Parliament, to clarify these points. Democracy means that people must have full trust in their institutions. That is the base for democracy, and that is what we fight for.

(Applause from the PPE Group)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jeppe Kofod, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, I would first of all like to congratulate Prime Minister Muscat on his victory in the election, which was very impressive indeed.

The Panama Papers have given rise to a number of scandals in EU countries. Some are open-and-shut cases, while others are merely hearsay and conjecture. In a democratic society built on the rule of law there is only one response to such allegations: where there are allegations, there must be investigation and, where there is investigation, there must be a conclusion, a judgement and a ruling. In the specific case of Malta, so far only two of these are present: the accusations and the formal investigation, which is well underway.

This being the case, the plenary chamber of the European Parliament is not the proper forum to deal with these accusations. I ask my honourable colleagues whether they really question the very foundation of democracy in Malta, a Member State that has recently achieved a 92% voter turnout and is a sound democracy. As a co-rapporteur of the PANA Committee, I am perhaps the keenest to get to the bottom of all cases linked to the Panama Papers and I will insist on having facts, not merely accusations. I refuse to be drawn in to questioning a fundamental societal pillar, the rule of law in Malta, even before the ongoing formal investigation is completed.

However, I do seriously question if the EU as a whole is capable of responding effectively to the revelations of the Panama Papers. Vital EU anti—tax evasion measures continue to be held up in the Council. If we are to make any positive difference at all in the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax havens, we must channel all of our efforts into building European solutions. As such, I ask the Members of this Parliament who take the floor whether they are ready to reform the Code of Conduct Group to ensure public scrutiny. Can you help to bring your own governments to responsibility for the actions taken by this group? I think this is very important. We also need to do more at a European level. Together with my former co—rapporteur, Michael Theurer, in the TAXE 2 report, I ask for the Union Tax Policy Coherence and Coordination Centre to strengthen our fight against tax evasion and tax fraud in the EU. We also want to see a Tax Europol that can bridge the gap between national authorities in these highly complex international tax cases.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Bernd Lucke, im Namen der ECR-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, meine Damen und Herren! Wir haben in der Tat viele Fragen bezüglich der Vorwürfe, die gegenüber Malta und der maltesischen Regierung geäußert werden. Aber es gibt auch Fragen, die wir an das Europäische Parlament richten müssen, zum Beispiel die Frage, warum diese Debatte jetzt nach den Wahlen stattfindet. Es hat ja den Vorschlag des Panama-Ausschusses gegeben, den Premierminister von Malta vor den Wahlen einzuladen. Und was wäre denn demokratischer, als dem Volk, das in Wahlen seine politische Meinung äußert, die Gelegenheit zu geben, auch die Fakten zur Kenntnis zu nehmen, die Befragung der maltesischen Regierung durchzuführen, bevor das Volk sich ein Urteil bildet?

Man muss an die Konferenz der Präsidenten die Frage richten: Warum wurde denn diesem Vorschlag des Panama-Ausschusses nicht Folge geleistet? Warum haben wir hier meines Erachtens gegen elementare demokratische Prinzipien verstoßen, indem wir erst jetzt eine Debatte führen, nachdem die Wahlen gelaufen sind? Ich glaube, es ist kein gutes Beispiel für Demokratie, das wir hier gegeben haben, und da sollten wir uns vielleicht auch einmal selbstkritisch an die Nase fassen.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Petr Ježek, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I do not mean to import Maltese internal politics here but I was a member of the former Touch 1 and Touch 2 committees, now I am a co-rapporteur on the PANA Committee and therefore I have some issues to raise.

The PANA Committee had a mission to Malta and many intermediaries named in the Panama papers are based in Malta; and also their possible ties to politically exposed persons there are very worrying. On the face of it, it seems EU law has somehow been implemented but its enforcement, strong and independent institutions including the Financial Intelligence Unit, and more generally the rule of law, are questionable.

In Brussels it seems Malta is fighting EU efforts to move towards more transparency, be it within the anti-money laundering directive, country by country reporting, or a common consolidated corporate tax base. This cannot imply anything other than it has a lot to hide.

It has nothing to do with the size of the country, but I am glad that the EU was reformed in the way that it now has a permanent president of the European Council. I am afraid that if you, Prime Minister, presided over the European Council now it would weaken the standing of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Fabio De Masi, im Namen der GUE/NGL-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Die Regierung Maltas und damit die aktuelle EU-Präsidentschaft wird in der Öffentlichkeit bedauerlicherweise mit krimineller Energie in Verbindung gebracht.

Kabinettsmitglieder tauchen in den Panama Papers auf, EU-Visa werden an chinesische Geschäftsleute verhökert, mit dem Rabattsystem können Unternehmen Steuersätze auf fünf Prozent der Gewinne drücken. In meiner Heimatstadt Hamburg nutzen Kreuzfahrtschiffe gar die maltesische Flagge und deutsches Steuerrecht, um die Steuern auf null zu drücken. Malta ist ein Paradies für Geldwäsche der italienischen Mafia. Ohne diplomatische Floskeln: An dem Geld, das Malta schützt, klebt daher auch Blut.

Gleichwohl haben die Malteser die sozialdemokratische Regierung bestätigt. Das überrascht nicht; es gab ja keine realistische Alternative – auch die Konservativen in Malta haben ihr Sündenregister. Im Wahlkampf mit dem Finger auf Malta zu zeigen, aber in Brüssel vor Steuertricks und Geldwäsche einzuknicken, wäre allerdings zu billig – so etwa Konservative und Liberale, die mit Ausnahmeregelungen beim country-by-country reporting kürzlich verhinderten, dass Konzerne lückenlos über Gewinne und gezahlte Steuern Land für Land berichten müssen.

Die EU muss jetzt liefern, auch gegen Malta. Rat und Kommission müssen mit uns Schlupflöcher in der Geldwäscherichtlinie, etwa für Scheindirektoren von Briefkastenfirmen, schließen. Die schwarze Liste der Steueroasen muss auch um EU—Staaten wie Malta erweitert werden. Wir brauchen Quellensteuern für unkooperative Staaten. Europa braucht Glaubwürdigkeit, keine faulen Deals mit der Steuermafia.

Und ich möchte Sie, Herr Muscat, fragen: Werden Sie sich dafür einsetzen, dass wir zum Mehrheitsprinzip in der code-of-conduct group kommen? Und werden Sie vor dem Panama Paper-Untersuchungsausschuss, dessen stellvertretender Vorsitzender ich bin, erscheinen? Es ging Ihnen eine Einladung des Vorsitzenden zu. Werden Sie das nachholen?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Sven Giegold, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, first of all, our group asked for this debate because we are seriously concerned with the state of the rule of law in Malta. We have found that the Financial Intelligence Unit has investigated several cases of serious wrong-doing in the field of money laundering, as well as in the field of bank licensing and doubtful procedures in banks. These have unfortunately not led to the opening of prosecution processes. These three known reports of the Financial Intelligence Unit have leaked to the media, but still prosecution processes seem not to be on the way and therefore, we call on the Police Commissioner to immediately open respective prosecution procedures.

Secondly, for the financial institutions involved, there should be consequences. There is a financial supervisor and there is something peculiar in Malta because the head of the financial supervisor MFSA, Joseph Bannister, is at the same time the Vice President of Malta Finance. There is a strong conflict of interest between the role of supervisor and that of the Development Authority which brings financial investment to Malta. We think the supervisor should take action against Pilatus bank and next year BT, to look at their licenses after the findings in the Panama Papers as well as in the reports of the FIU.

Furthermore, we believe that the key persons who were involved in the Panama Papers, including Mr Schembri as well as Brian Tonna and Kazimi as well as Mr Zammit who was found in the Swiss Leagues, should appear before the Panama Papers committee; so far they have failed to do so. Reuters and Der Spiegel have revealed lax supervision in the online gaming sector.

Lastly, it is imperative that a thorough investigation be started. We have written today to the Commission to start investigations regarding Treaty violation procedures concerning money laundering legislation and bank licensing practices. It is high time for Malta to defend its reputation. Your island needs to be based on the thorough rule of law; and you can do it, you have in your hands to really reveal to the public the truth about all these things and have fair and tough investigations. These are not replaced by elections.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  David Coburn, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Mr President, until the end of June, Malta holds the incumbent Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For many politicians, it seems to be a good moment to attack this small republic. This debate is linked to the Panama Papers committee working on tax avoidance, tax evasion and money laundering. The Maltese financial services sector has come under increasing pressure from abroad, especially after the reappointment of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi in the Maltese Government – both of them appear in the Panama papers. Nevertheless, it is not the European Parliament that should interfere in the investigation of a sovereign nation state. Many MEPs in this House are exploiting this debate to push forward their agenda to ban economic competition between countries. By using outdated buzz words like ‘fair tax competition’ and talking about a ‘level playing field’, these EU federalists are trying to cover up their real aspirations – creating a big supranational taxation union. This debate shows to the people of the UK why it is so important for Britain to leave the EU by way of a hard Brexit, which means no membership of the single market, no membership of a political union, and no membership of this socialist taxation union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Barbara Kappel, im Namen der ENF-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, Herr Kommissar, hohe Ratspräsidentschaft! 5 % Wirtschaftswachstum, 4,7 % Arbeitslosigkeit und eine Staatsverschuldung von 58,3 % im letzten Jahr – das hat Malta zu einem der Top Performer in der Europäischen Union gemacht, und das wird wahrscheinlich auch ein Grund sein, warum Sie, Herr Ministerpräsident, von den Wählern wieder bestätigt wurden. Ich gratuliere Ihnen dazu.

Die Panama Papers warfen allerdings ein Schlaglicht auf den Finanzplatz Malta, und die Malta-files runden dieses Schlaglicht ab. Die gute makroökonomische Performance Maltas basiert aber in erster Linie auf den Einnahmen aus den Finanzdienstleistungen. Das umfasst auch die erheblichen Steuervorteile, die sich zum Beispiel aus der Sechs-Siebtel-Regelung über die Rückerstattung von Gewinnsteuern ergeben. Gemeinhin wird Malta als Steueroase bezeichnet, wobei Malta weder auf der Blacklist der OECD noch der FATF aufscheint. Der Panama-Untersuchungsausschuss war in Malta und hat festgestellt, dass die Aufklärung von Steuerflucht und Geldwäsche behindert wird.

Allerdings haben Sie im Rahmen der Ratspräsidentschaft sehr gute Arbeit geleistet zum Thema Bekämpfung der Steuerflucht, insbesondere für mehr Transparenz, und ist es Ihnen gelungen, das OECD-Abkommen für die Bekämpfung der Steuerschlupflöcher, das BEPS-Abkommen, zu unterzeichnen. Dafür gebührt Ihnen Dank. Das ist ein guter Schritt und ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Λάμπρος Φουντούλης (NI). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Επίτροπε, κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, η διαφθορά αποτελεί μια μεγάλη πληγή της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενώσεως και, φυσικά, δεν αφορά μόνο τη Μάλτα. Στη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση, έχουμε πράγματι τα ονόματα δύο στελεχών της μαλτεζικής κυβερνήσεως στα περίφημα «Panama papers». Αρχικά, αυτό δεν αποδεικνύει τίποτα παραπάνω εκτός από πιθανή φοροαποφυγή. Πράγματι, θεωρώ αναγκαίο η δικαιοσύνη στη Μάλτα να ερευνήσει την υπόθεση και, αν αποδειχθούν παρανομίες, να τιμωρηθούν οι υπαίτιοι. Όμως αυτό δεν είναι υπόθεση του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου, το οποίο δεν είναι σε θέση να παριστάνει τον δικαστή. Ειδικά, μάλιστα, από τη στιγμή που πολλές υπόνοιες και υποψίες σχετικά με τη διαχείριση των οικονομικών αφορούν μέλη του. Επιπλέον, ας λάβουμε υπόψη μας πως ο λαός της Μάλτας επέλεξε πάλι την ίδια κυβέρνηση με σημαντική μάλιστα πλειοψηφία. Δεν αντιπροσωπεύουν τον λαό οι διάφορες υποκινούμενες και μη ελεγχόμενες Μη Κυβερνητικές Οργανώσεις ή η φερόμενη ως κοινωνία των πολιτών, αλλά αντίθετα, ο λαός εκφράζεται στις εκλογές. Τέλος, σε μια Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση που σαν επικεφαλής της Επιτροπής έχει τον πρώην Πρωθυπουργό του Λουξεμβούργου, καλύτερα να μην κατηγορούμε τους άλλους για φοροαποφυγή.

 
  
  

PRESIDE: RAMÓN LUIS VALCÁRCEL SISO
Vicepresidente

 
  
MPphoto
 

  David Casa (PPE). – Aktar minn sena ilu, permezz tal-Panama Papers, inkixfu pjanijiet ta’ korruzzjoni fuq skala kbira u ħasil ta’ flus min-nies li jokkupaw karigi għolja fil-Gvern Malti.

Bħalissa f’Malta qed isiru numru ta’ investigazzjonijiet kriminali. Il-Prim Ministru ta’ Malta reġa’ ngħata ċans ieħor mill-elettorat, u dan aħna nirrispettawh. Imma l-vot tal-ġimgħa li għaddiet ma jaħfirx id-dnubiet tal-politiċi korrotti. It-tieni ċans tal-Prim Ministru ma tantx beda fuq nota tajba. Fil-kabinett tiegħu reġa’ appunta nies korrotti u li jaħslu l-flus.

Issa l-Prim Ministru għandu għażla: jew li jibqa’ mniżżel fl-istorja bħala l-Prim Ministru korrott ta’ Malta, jew jista’ jagħżel li jirranġa t-taħwid. Jekk jagħżel dan, jien ser inkun hemm biex ngħinu. Ngħinu jerġa’ jibni r-reputazzjoni ta’ Malta. Ngħinu jiddefendi s-settur finanzjarju tagħna.

Prim Ministru, tħalli lil ħadd jattakka, pereżempju, il-whistleblower tal-FIAU. Qegħdin hawn illum biex nitolbuk ma tarmix it-tieni opportunità li għandek. Jien inħobb lil Malta.

U għax inħobb lil Malta ser nibqa’ niġi hawn nitkellem kontra l-korruzzjoni. Jien inħobb lil Malta u għax inħobb lil Malta ser nibqa’ nitkellem meta l-istituzzjonijiet tagħna jkunu dgħajfa. Prim Ministru, għandek tieqa żgħira ta’opportunità biex tillimita l-ħsara li ħloqt. Użaha. Ara fiex ġibt lil pajjiżna.

Prim Ministru tibqax tapprova l-korruzzjoni, iżda nappellalek biex ilkoll flimkien, aħna u intom, naħdmu biex neqirdu l-korruzzjoni u l-kriminali li għandna f’pajjiżna.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alfred Sant (S&D). – Mr President, Members of this Parliament wishing to criticise the Maltese Government might say it has adopted policies with which they disagree. Yet under Dr Muscat’s administration, the Maltese economy has reached unprecedented growth rates, at the top of the EU league. It is delivering prosperity to all segments of the Maltese population; reforms have been implemented very quickly on social liberalisation, on LGBT rights, on access to education, on the reduction of poverty. Progress has been rapid. The government has declared it will correct any mistakes made. Critics of the Maltese administration have no basis to claim that the rule of law is being undermined. That rule is as alive and well in Malta as anywhere else in the EU. Currently, four magisterial inquiries are investigating allegations of improprieties in public management. They are proceeding in total independence, in accordance with the rule of law. The Maltese Prime Ministers has committed to respect their conclusions. Some might dislike the fact that Malta is excelling in financial services, yet the sector operates in full conformity with EU and OECD rules. Individual cases are being wrongly generalised by people in this Parliament. The grounds for this debate are non-existent. If they are given credence, future statements we might make about the rule of law anywhere will risk becoming undermined and devalued.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 162(8))

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Csaba Sógor (PPE), blue-card question. – Mr Sant, over a year ago you expressed your view that Minister Mizzi should resign. How do you feel about the fact that he has been reinstated after the Maltese elections?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alfred Sant (S&D), blue-card answer.(inaudible) for a prime minister to respect the verdict of the people. I note that this has been done in this case as well.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner (ECR). – Arvoisa puhemies, kun harvalukuiset tutkijat ja kansalaisaktivistit pitivät ääntä veroparatiiseista, laittomasta veronkierrosta ja laillisesta mutta kyseenalaisesta veronvälttelystä kymmenisen vuotta sitten, se leimattiin suoraan haihatteluksi. Tänään ei kukaan ajattele näin, ja se on hienoa.

PANA-tutkintavaliokunnan tyyppisten elinten suurin arvo on siinä, että ne kirittävät sekä EU:n komissiota että jäsenmaita parantamaan toimintaansa ja tekemään kunnianhimoisempia aloitteita. Olemme PANA- ja TAXE-valiokunnissa tentanneet lukuisia valtiovarainministereitä, muita poliitikkoja sekä kansainvälisten järjestöjen ja yritysten edustajia, mukaan lukien myös Malta.

Tapahtunut kehitys on esimerkki siitä, että maailmaa voidaan muuttaa, kun saadaan mukaan oikeat ihmiset, riittävät resurssit ja vahva tahto muutokseen. Tätä työtä täytyy tukea myös tulevaisuudessa kaikilla tasoilla. Toivon, että käynnistettyjä hankkeita pystytään seuraamaan ja arvioimaan. Tässä myös median, tutkijoiden ja kansalaisjärjestöjen työllä on erittäin suuri arvo.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Michael Theurer (ALDE). – Herr Präsident, Herr Kommissar, Herr Premierminister! Die TAXE-Berichte haben ganz eindeutig gezeigt: Seit vielen Jahren ist bekannt, wo Steuerschlupflöcher herkommen: durch die Kombination von überkomplexen nationalen Steuersystemen. Die konnten nicht geschlossen werden. Die Finanzminister, die Regierungschefs wissen seit vielen Jahren von diesem Problem, aber sie konnten sich nicht einigen.

Mit Panama kommt jetzt ans Tageslicht, dass das vielleicht einen ganz anderen Grund hat: weil nämlich Vertreter des Showbusiness, auch hochkarätige Sportler und zum Teil möglicherweise auch Politiker an diesen Geschäften beteiligt sind. Jedenfalls steht der Verdacht im Raum, und deshalb ist es nicht gleichgültig, was in diesen Panama Papers steht. Deshalb wollen wir das hier als Parlament auch aufklären, denn wir verabschieden Gesetze gegen Steuervermeidung und Steuerhinterziehung und vor allem auch gegen Geldwäsche – das ist EU-Recht. Und dann hat man den Eindruck, dass die nicht umgesetzt werden.

Was macht dann die Kommission? Naja, die wendet sich an die nationalen Regierungen. Aber wenn dann vielleicht Minister in den Panama-Papieren auftauchen, dann besteht ja der öffentliche Verdacht, dass die Regierung deshalb nicht handelt, weil einige Beteiligte davon selber profitieren können. Das ist doch eine schreckliche Situation – da muss doch aufgeräumt werden! Das ist ja dann so, als wenn die Beagle Boys, die Panzerknacker, im Grunde genommen mit dem Schutz vor Einbrechern beauftragt werden.

Deshalb haben die Bürgerinnen und Bürger ein Recht darauf zu erfahren: Sind tatsächlich Regierungsmitglieder in Malta betroffen? Wann kommt endlich eine unabhängige Untersuchung? Wird der Rechtsstaat hier durchgesetzt, wenn die Namen genannt sind? Wenn vielleicht sogar die Frau des Premierministers hier in der Öffentlichkeit als letzte Berechtigte genannt wird? Dann muss hier dringend dafür gesorgt werden, dass entweder gezeigt wird, dass an den Vorwürfen nichts dran ist – dann ist es ausgeräumt –, oder aber der Rechtsstaat muss entsprechend zur Wirkung gebracht werden. Und die Kommission, Herr Präsident, ist hier auch gefordert, denn ansonsten macht sie sich zum Komplizen.

(Der Redner ist damit einverstanden, eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“ gemäß Artikel 162 Absatz 8 der Geschäftsordnung zu beantworten.)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE), Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“. – Herr Präsident! Nein, ich habe eine Frage an den Kollegen Theurer. Das hat zu tun mit dem Europäischen Staatsanwalt. Ist es zutreffend – das frage ich jetzt als Mitglied des Untersuchungsausschusses –, dass Malta sich dem Europäischen Staatsanwalt nicht unterworfen hat, und wie bewertest du das? Warum ist es offenbar der maltesischen Regierung nicht möglich oder warum ist sie nicht willens, die Unterstützung für die Behörden zu leisten an Stellen, wo gegen die finanziellen Interessen der Europäischen Union verstoßen wird? Ist das ein ernstes Problem, und wenn ja, was soll man tun?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Michael Theurer (ALDE), Antwort auf eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“. – Herr Kollege Lambsdorff! Das Europäische Parlament fordert seit vielen Jahren die Einrichtung einer Europäischen Staatsanwaltschaft, damit eben auch Betrugsdelikte von Seiten der Europäischen Union grenzübergreifend in den Mitgliedstaaten geahndet werden können. Es gibt jetzt im Zusammenhang mit der verstärkten Zusammenarbeit einen ersten Gang von einigen Mitgliedstaaten. Nach den mir vorliegenden Informationen hat sich aber Malta bisher nicht bereit erklärt, die Europäische Staatsanwaltschaft zu unterstützen und ebenfalls einzuführen. Aber hier müsste dann der Premierminister erklären, warum Malta diesen Europäischen Staatsanwalt, den das Europäische Parlament seit vielen Jahren fordert, nicht unterstützt.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Eva Joly (Verts/ALE). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Premier ministre maltais, vous pensez avoir répondu aux accusations de corruption pesant sur votre entourage en convoquant des élections anticipées dans votre pays. Mais une réélection ne permet pas d’écarter les soupçons. Seule une enquête sérieuse de l’autorité de poursuite le peut.

Vous engagez-vous, ici, à garantir de véritables enquêtes policières indépendantes? De la même manière, se cacher derrière l’appartenance à l’Union européenne pour réfuter le fait que Malte puisse être un paradis fiscal n’est pas une réponse sérieuse. Comment qualifier alors un pays qui fait perdre chaque année 2 milliards d’euros de recettes fiscales aux autres États membres, d’après les révélations des «Malta Files»?

Tant que les États membres ne seront pas pris en compte dans la liste noire européenne des paradis fiscaux, non, Monsieur Muscat, faire partie de l’Union européenne ne suffira pas à écarter la qualification de paradis fiscal. Il est temps que nos gouvernements prennent conscience des dégâts causés par ces pratiques fiscales.

Le ministre français de l’économie, Bruno Le Maire, ne semblait pas non plus en avoir pris la mesure, puisqu’il a considéré comme tout à fait légal le fait que Renault et PSA éludent 119 millions d’euros d’impôts en installant des filiales à Malte. Non, ce que certains appellent de l’optimisation fiscale est en réalité de l’évasion fiscale par abus de prix de transfert, et est donc frauduleux.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Mario Borghezio (ENF). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signor Presidente Muscat, le elenco due o tre argomenti che emergono dai Malta Papers: emergono i traffici della 'ndrangheta, della mafia calabrese, emergono i nomi dei più grossi personaggi del clan di San Luca, protagonista del traffico mondiale di cocaina, emergono traffici di armi, emerge un personaggio come Mohsen Rezaian, un personaggio di rilievo internazionale nel traffico di armi, tra l'altro affiliato a Hezbollah, con due società, l'America Holding e la Serafiner Trading, entrambe di diritto maltese.

Non sono parole generiche. Sui giornali si parla di La Valletta oggi – una città e un paese che ho imparato ad amare in questo semestre – come di una seconda Tripoli. Questo è un atto d'accusa, è una vergogna, al centro di tutti i traffici di armi e di quant'altro fra Italia e Libia, il peggio che ci sia. Siete coinvolti e non vi siete fatti mancare neppure i traffici delle ONG che favoriscono i traffici dei clandestini, come denunciato ultimamente persino dalla guardia libica. E lei ci viene a parlare genericamente di impegni? Lei avrebbe dovuto venire qua a dirci che cosa sta facendo contro queste realtà, non queste accuse generiche, queste realtà, documentate con nomi e cognomi, emerse dall'inchiesta di questi ...

(Il Presidente interrompe l'oratore)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Steven Woolfe (NI). – Mr President, the Panama Papers have given rise to many scandals and corruption, and it is quite right that we create laws to prevent such waste and deal with those scandals. So why doesn’t the Commission deal with the biggest scandals of all: the waste of the European Union of the taxpayers of Europe? Take, for example, the Parliament building in Brussels, built in 1993 for EUR 1 billion, and now we are told today that it’s potentially about to fall down and needs rebuilding for EUR 393 billion. Or the new Wilfried Martens building built for EUR 125 million – 15% more than ordinary buildings of the type would have been built. The European house of history: EUR 60 million. The parliamentary building: EUR 422 million. And now we have our own MEPs’ cocktail bar for EUR 1.9 million as well – there is the scandal, ladies and gentlemen. Thank goodness we in Britain are going to leave the European Union, so that we don’t have to deal with those costs and waste anymore.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Werner Langen (PPE). – Herr Präsident! Herr Premierminister, Sie haben gesagt, welche Fortschritte Sie in den letzten vier Jahren in der Rechtsstaatlichkeit gemacht haben. Was nutzen diese Fortschritte auf dem Papier, wenn der demokratische Selbstreinigungsprozess in Ihrer Regierung nicht funktioniert, wenn Sie Herrn Mizzi erneut als Minister berufen haben, ohne die Konsequenzen zu ziehen, ohne eine Untersuchung?

Dann kann ich nur sagen: Das tut mir leid – Sie, als ehemaliger Kollege, haben auch zu verantworten, dass das Parlament, der Untersuchungsausschuss – ich nehme den Finanzminister aus, aber von den anderen, deren Namen aufgetaucht sind – in extremem Maße ignoriert wurde. Wir haben auf unsere Fragen vom November keine Antwort erhalten. Wir haben keine Antwort bekommen auf unsere Einladung. Herr Schembri hat auf der Straße in Malta ein Kuvert aus dem Büro des Ministerpräsidenten überreichen lassen.

Das ist ein Umgang mit dem Parlament, den ich von einem ehemaligen Parlamentarier nicht für möglich gehalten hätte! Und Sie sind Vorsitzender des Rates in diesem Jahr – also, eine solche Rats-Ignoranz gegenüber dem frei gewählten Europäischen Parlament ist mir bisher noch nicht begegnet. Da müssen Sie in Ihrem eigenen Land aufräumen!

Wir werden dahinter bleiben, wir werden darauf bestehen, dass Ihr eigener Fall aufgeklärt wird – da können Sie lachen. Wir werden darauf bestehen, dass das nicht durchgeht, und das Panama-Untersuchungskomitee wird – wenn nichts geschieht, wenn Sie da so weitermachen wie bisher – auch der Frage nachgehen, ob bei dieser Wahl Stimmen gekauft wurden, wie in Malta öffentlich behauptet wird.

(Der Redner ist damit einverstanden, eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“ gemäß Artikel 162 Absatz 8 der Geschäftsordnung zu beantworten.)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Nuno Melo (PPE), Pergunta segundo o procedimento "cartão azul". – Meu caro Deputado Langen, é presidente da Comissão Panamá Papers. Por minha solicitação, esta comissão chamou o Secretário de Estado português, Rocha Andrade, a Bruxelas. Nessa audição, o Secretário de Estado não esclareceu sobre um acordo secreto para retirar o Panamá da lista negra e confessou não ter pedido um parecer à autoridade tributária para retirar da lista negra os offshores, paraísos fiscais, de Jersey, Man e Uruguai.

Principalmente, depois desta omissão, soube-se em Portugal que havia um parecer negativo quanto à retirada do Uruguai da lista negra nacional. Ou seja, este é um facto muito importante, um esclarecimento que não foi dado, que foi negado à comissão pelo Secretário de Estado português, Rocha Andrade. Eu já requeri novamente que o Secretário de Estado português, Rocha Andrade, comparecesse na missão a Portugal da Comissão Panamá Papers. Como presidente da Comissão Panamá Papers pergunto-lhe se considera ou não importantes estes novos esclarecimentos? Pessoalmente, considero-os muito importantes.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Werner Langen (PPE), Antwort auf eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“. – Herr Kollege! Wir haben über die Frage der schwarzen Liste auch mit dem Kommissionspräsidenten diskutiert. Er hat gesagt: Bis Jahresende wird die vorgelegt, aber er hofft, dass kein einziger Mitgliedstaat oder keine einzige Jurisdiktion innerhalb der EU darauf sein wird. Diese Aussage werden wir nicht akzeptieren.

Es gibt 33 Steuerparadiese innerhalb der Europäischen Union. Und einige Mitgliedstaaten haben Wert darauf gelegt, dass sie außen vor bleiben, und haben dafür auch andere Staaten herausgenommen, wie Uruguay. Dieses System werden wir überprüfen, und nach meiner Überzeugung muss das Steuererstattungssystem von Malta für ausländische Firmen in diese Liste aufgenommen werden.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Miriam Dalli (S&D). – Interessanti kif il-Partit tal-Popolari Ewropej, li tagħhom il-Partit Nazzjonalista Malti huwa membru, ressqu s-suġġett għad-dibattitu biex jagħtu l-impressjoni li l-prinċipju legali tad-dritt ma jeżistix f’Malta.

Qed jippruvaw jitfgħu lil Malta fl-istess keffa tal-Ungerija mmexxija minn membru tal-familja politika tagħhom. Li mhux qed jgħidu huwa li l-Partit Nazzjonalista li jagħmel parti mill-Popolari Ewropej għamel ġimgħat sħaħ jagħmilha ta’ prosekutur, ta’ ġurat, ta’ imħallef, jgħid lil min se jitfa’ l-ħabs u lil min irid ineħħi għaliex ma jaqbilx magħhom. Jagħmel pressjoni fuq l-istituzzjonijiet u jimmina lill-istess istituzzjonijiet. U jibqa’ għaddej b’allegazzjonijiet bla bażi li smajt jiġu ripetuti hawnhekk.

Għalija, dik hija l-attitudni ta’ min ma jemminx fil-prinċipju bażiku tar-rule of law. Ir-realtà hi li kellu jkun Gvern Laburista biex neħħa l-preskrizzjoni għall-politiċi b’akkużi ta’ korruzzjoni, li introduċa l-liġi għall-finanzjament tal-partiti u li daħħal liġi li tipproteġi lill-whistleblowers. Gvern li ma jħarisx il-prinċipju tad-dritt ma jdaħħalx dawn il-miżuri.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Monica Macovei (ECR). – Domnule președinte, Panama Papers au dezvăluit și au declanșat un scandal de corupție în care este implicat inclusiv premierul Maltei, prezent aici cu noi în sală. Scandalul de corupție trebuie investigat până la capăt, la fel ca toate scandalurile de corupție și evaziune fiscală pe care Panama Papers le-au dezvăluit. Pentru lupta împotriva corupției, evaziunii și spălării banilor, este obligatoriu să eliminăm toate acțiunile la purtător din toate statele membre, inclusiv din țara mea, România. Acțiuni la purtător sunt cecuri în alb, nu conțin numele proprietarului, nu lasă urme, nu există control și sunt anonime. Când acțiunile se mută dintr-o mână în alta se schimbă și proprietarul, fără urme. Repet, prin spălarea de bani, circa trei trilioane de dolari sunt pierduți în fiecare an în lume, din care doar 1% sunt recuperați. Suntem datori să-i recuperăm pe toți, pentru oameni.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Nils Torvalds (ALDE). – Herr talman! Vi har under tidigare diskussioner kring Malta försökt att också visa lite förståelse för landet. Förståelsen bygger på att det kan vara ganska svårt att hitta en fungerande ekonomi om man är liten sten mitt ute i Medelhavet och det inte finns ett stort förråd av naturresurser att använda. Samtidigt är vi lite oroade just nu av den process vi ser i samband med penningtvättsdirektivet. Vi har hållit på i samband med penningtvättsdirektivet att försöka hitta regler som ska hålla, och då visar det sig att det maltesiska ordförandeskapet inte riktigt klarar av att fatta klara och enkla beslut om den verkliga ägaren. Den centrala punkten i våra försök att hitta kryphålen i beskattningspolitiken handlar om att vi hittar den verkliga ägaren. Om Maltas ordförandeskap inte vågar ta upp den frågan väcker det misstankar – misstankar som handlar om att det inte alltid sköts på det sätt som det borde skötas på. Det finns också andra indicier. En annan fråga som kommer upp i penningtvättsdirektivet handlar om vem som är en politiskt utsatt personlighet och den frågan har inte heller skötts.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Gilles Lebreton (ENF). – Monsieur le Président, l’Union européenne cherche à se présenter comme l’Europe des valeurs. Elle n’est que l’Europe des affairistes.

Nous avions déjà Jean-Claude Juncker, grand architecte de l’évasion fiscale, à la tête de la Commission, nous avons maintenant Malte, paradis fiscal, à la tête du Conseil européen. C’est assez savoureux quand on sait que, pour redorer son blason, le Parlement européen a créé depuis un an une commission d’enquête sur le scandale des «Panama Papers», au sein de laquelle j’ai l’honneur de siéger.

Une enquête menée par un réseau international de journalistes vient de révéler que Malte, petit État de moins de 500 000 habitants, prive ses partenaires de l’Union de deux milliards d’euros de recettes fiscales par an. Face à ce scandale, l’Union ne fait rien!

Je l’accuse de laisser délibérément des multinationales, des banques et des responsables politiques bénéficier de cette évasion fiscale. J’appelle les Européens, et plus particulièrement les Français, à ouvrir les yeux sur la véritable nature de l’Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Dariusz Rosati (PPE). – Mr President, during our work in the committee of inquiry on the so—called Panama Papers, the word ‘Malta’ has come up very often. I would like to say to the Prime Minister that this was mostly in the context of very worrying information about high officials from his country being involved in various activities that raise suspicion of being linked to money laundering and corruption. Given this information, we decided to organise a fact—finding mission to Malta, during which we met with representatives of intermediaries as well as with journalists and some government officials.

Prime Minister, unfortunately, your Chief of Staff, Mr Schembri, whose name appeared in the Panama Papers, refused to meet with us, while another member of your Cabinet, whose name was also exposed in the Panama Papers, Minister Konrad Mizzi, failed to convince us of his innocence. We find it absolutely unacceptable that a high government official from an EU Member State refuses to appear before the parliamentary committee of inquiry to testify. Moreover, we also find it very worrying that you, as Prime Minister, have not suspended both Mr Schembri and Minister Mizzi from their government duties until the legal investigation in their cases is completed.

The failure to do so, Prime Minister, has seriously undermined the credibility of your country and yourself personally at the crucial time when Malta holds the Presidency of the European Union. It has also sent a bad signal to European public opinion. I am sure you agree with me that winning elections does not allow you or your government to sweep such problems under the rug. Here in this House, we all expect that you will make sure that an honest investigation into these two cases will take place without delay.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ramón Jáuregui Atondo (S&D). – Señor presidente. Los papeles de Panamá no han puesto únicamente en cuestión a Malta. Quiero empezar por recordar que son muchos los países, los entramados, los bancos, los asesores fiscales, los abogados que están relacionados con los papeles de Panamá.

Es importante, sin embargo, que recordemos que este país, Malta, tiene la firme voluntad de trabajar por la transparencia y por la cooperación leal en la lucha contra la evasión fiscal. Esto es lo que nosotros pensamos de usted, señor Muscat. Nosotros tenemos confianza plena en su trabajo. Le respetamos, le felicitamos por su triunfo y esperamos que, efectivamente, Malta sea uno de los países punteros en esta lucha por la justicia fiscal y por la lucha contra los paraísos fiscales.

Pero, señorías, no hablamos solo de Malta. Porque quiero recordar que se han cruzado cuarenta mil personas, relacionadas con la Unión Europea, con los papeles de Panamá y la OLAF ha decidido investigar a varias personas. Por ejemplo, a la antigua comisaria Kroes o, por ejemplo, al actual comisario Cañete, por sus relaciones con los papeles de Panamá. Hablemos claro.

No acusemos solo a Malta, sino que exijamos ejemplaridad y exijamos, efectivamente, una investigación plena de los responsables. Porque, ciertamente, también la Comisión, también la Unión Europea tienen que dar credibilidad suficiente a su trabajo y no acusar únicamente a un país, sino ponernos todos al frente de una lucha que debemos librar todos juntos.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ангел Джамбазки (ECR). – Няма съмнение, досиетата „Панама“ са един от най-големите скандали, на които сме били свидетели през последните години. Впечатляващо е, че отнема повече от година, за да бъдат изяснени твърденията за корупция на високо ниво.

С обвиненията през април миналата година главно към Вас, уважаеми министър-председател, както и към Вашия началник-щаб, министър на енергетиката и членове на Вашето семейство, забелязваме, че това важно досие се проточва изключително дълго. Това мога да го видя и като член на комисията за досиетата „Панама“. Още повече, че в момента Вашата страна е председател на Съвета на Европа по време на текущото разследване.

Очевидно е и е видимо възпрепятстването от страна на ключови държавни органи в малтийската политическа и правоприлагаща сфера, както се съобщава най-вече в местните медии. Само девет месеца след като Вие, съвместно с „Прозрачност без граници“, подписахте изявление относно подход за борба с корупцията и нулева толерантност, „Прозрачност без граници“ заяви в официално съобщение от 9 август 2016 г., че Малта трябва да се изчисти от корупцията преди да се отправи към Съвета на ЕС следващата година.

Такъв случай на корупция в Европейския съюз трябва да бъде изяснен възможно най-бързо.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Roberta Metsola (PPE). – Għal min verament iħobb lil Malta mhux ta’ pjaċir li llum ninsabu hawn f’din id-diskussjoni. Il-Gvern seta’ evita dan kollu imma ma riedx. F’pajjiżi hemm diversi inkjesti maġisterjali li qed isiru fuq esponenti ewlenin tal-Gvern li huma involuti f’allegazzjonijiet ta’ ħasil ta’ flus f’kontijiet sigrieti.

Hawn min, għaliex hekk jaqbillu biex isikkitna, jgħid li jekk tiddefendi lil pajjiżek, tkun qed tittradixxi lil Malta. Min jgħid hekk, żbaljat. Inkunu qed nittradixxu lil Malta jekk niddefendu lil min jipproteġi lil dak li qed jiġi investigat. Jiena kburija li jiena Maltija u kburija li niddefendi lil pajjiżi f’Malta u anke hawnhekk.

Jien ukoll kontra min qed juża dak li ġara bħala skuża biex idgħajjef is-settur tas-servizzi finanzjarji f’Malta. Il-ħażin li għamlu dawn in-nies m’għandhomx jeħlu bih il-ħaddiema u s-servizzi finanzjarji. Għalhekk, jiena nappella, li fuq naħa, għandna nibqgħu impenjati li nsaħħu l-istituzzjonijiet ewlenin tagħna f’pajjiżna, inkluż dawk li jgħassu kontra attivitajiet illegali, u fuq in-naħa l-oħra, għandna nirreaġixxu għal kull min juża dak li għamel il-Gvern bħala skuża fuq is-suċċess li kisbet Malta f’dan is-settur fis-snin li għaddew.

Bil-kliem kulħadd jista’ jgħid li huwa Ewropew imma dak li għandu jiddefinixxina bħala Maltin u Ewropej huma l-valuri tagħna kif inwettquhom. Li niddefendu u naħdmu fl-interess ta’ pajjiżna hu obbligu tagħna u juri l-kobor tagħna, għaliex il-kobor tagħna ma jiġix mill-pożizzjoni jew id-daqs ġeografiku imma mill-ħila tagħna li nwettqu l-valuri Ewropej.

Jiena nwiegħed li, flimkien mal-kollegi tiegħi, ser nibqa’ dejjem niddefendi lil pajjiżna u lil dak li nemmnu fih, kullimkien.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marlene Mizzi (S&D). – Dan id-dibattitu li qatt ma missu sar hu instigat biss għal skop partiġjan bil-ħsieb li jimmina x-xogħol tal-Gvern Malti u jtebba’ isem Malta. Qegħdin niddiskutu affarijiet ta’ Stat demokratiku li misshom jiġu indirizzati internament u mingħajr indħil.

Qegħdin niddiskutu wieħed mill-Istati Membri li l-aktar għamlu suċċess ekonomiku, fejn id-demokrazija u r-rule of law qatt ma kienu dubjużi. Waqt li għall-Panama Papers hemm il-PANA Committee, id-dibattitu tal-lum huwa biss skuża meskina biex din il-Kamra tinkludi aġenda partiġjana ta’ nies li, kull meta tkellmu bl-iskop li jattakkaw ‘il-Gvern, għamlu kemm setgħu deni lil pajjiżhom, speċjalment waqt li Malta għandha l-presidenza. Nies li stqarru li jistħu li huma Maltin.

L-iskop ta’ dan id-dibattitu mhux veru biex niddiskutu r-rule of law. Tant hu hekk, li dawn riedu li dan id-dibattitu jsir qabel l-elezzjoni ġenerali biex b’hekk jieħdu vantaġġ politiku partiġjan. Dawn huma tattiċi tal-mistħija, tattiċi tal-bullying. Malta hi pajjiż demokratiku, progressiv u ta’ suċċess. Pajjiż żgħir imma nazzjon kbir. Tippruvawx tkunu bullies magħna għax ma nħallukomx.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Markus Ferber (PPE). – Herr Präsident, liebe Kolleginnen, liebe Kollegen! Nachdem ich auch das besondere Vergnügen hatte, im TAXE-1-, TAXE-2- und im Panama-Untersuchungsausschuss sein zu können, muss ich doch feststellen, dass es sehr, sehr schwierig ist, in dieses Kartell des Schweigens, das der Rat leider auch mit Unterstützung der Kommission aufgebaut hat, Licht zu bringen und Informationen zu beschaffen.

Erstens: Herr Kommissar, Sie haben mir einen Brief geschrieben, es gäbe in der Europäischen Union keine Steueroasen. Dieser Brief hat in meinem Büro einen Ehrenplatz bekommen, und ich schaue ihn mir immer wieder sehr gerne an, weil die tägliche Arbeit auch im Untersuchungsausschuss zeigt, dass das Gegenteil der Fall ist.

Und, Herr Premierminister, es ist doch interessant, dass ein Land wie das Ihrige wirklich das Who is Who der europäischen Wirtschaft im eigenen Land ansiedeln kann, ohne dass da groß Produktion stattfindet. Auch das sind interessante Dinge, die wir in TAXE-1 und TAXE-2 aufbereitet haben.

In Panama geht es darum, wie individuelle Steuerpflichtige ihre Vermögen vor der Besteuerung in Sicherheit bringen. Und dass selbst maltesische Staatsbürger in hoher Verantwortung die maltesischen Steuersätze fürchten, ist ja doch ein beredtes Beispiel für das, was da stattfindet.

Das Ganze wird noch dadurch gekrönt, dass die Zusammenarbeit mit dem Rat – Entschuldigung – unter aller Kanone ist. Wir haben jetzt gelernt, welche Möglichkeiten des Einschwärzens von Dokumenten es gibt, als wir die Unterlagen anschauen wollten. Manche schwärzen ganze Seiten, manche schwärzen Absätze, manche schwärzen Worte. Aber wir kriegen keine Informationen, wir bekommen nur schwarze Seiten.

Sehr geehrter Herr Premierminister, da hätten Sie viel tun können, um mehr Glaubwürdigkeit in Europa zu schaffen. Wer Wirtschaftswachstum nur auf dem Rücken anderer Staaten schafft, der handelt nicht rechtmäßig.

(Der Redner ist damit einverstanden, eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“ gemäß Artikel 162 Absatz 8 der Geschäftsordnung zu beantworten.)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Tibor Szanyi (S&D), Kékkártyás kérdés. – Elnök Úr! Mindenekelőtt hadd mondjak egy szót Miniszterelnök úrnak is, hogy magyar képviselőként, magyar állampolgárként irigylem az ön problémáit. Ugyanis mindazok a vádak, amik egyébként a korábbiakban elhangzottak, meg Ön is utalt rá. Tisztelettel kérdezem, hogy ugyanezt a beszédet Ön hajlandó lenne-e Orbán Viktornak is elmondani, aki százszorosát követi el mindazoknak, amivel most a máltaiakat vádoljuk?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Markus Ferber (PPE), Antwort auf eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“. – Also, auch bei intensiver Lektüre der Panama-Papers ist der Name Orbán nicht auffindbar gewesen. Deswegen kann ich ihm die Fragen nicht stellen.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Paul Tang (S&D). – Mr President, we are having a debate and there is not a lack of opinions and even accusations, but there is a lack of facts. I have been part of the PANA delegation to Malta; we had discussions, but it was very difficult for us also by the nature of this mission to uncover this fact. I think the European Parliament, before entering this debate should get the facts, and take itself seriously by gathering facts and not just have opinions and accusations – that is not enough.

Let me talk about one topic. This is the opportunity where we do have facts and a lot of evidence – the evidence for tax competition. We now see for example that small firms pay 30% more taxes than large corporations: that is a fact. Malta has, to put it in a neutral way, a very different tax system, with the ultimate tax burden of about 5% in many cases. There is nothing wrong with being different and having a different tax system, but I would implore the Prime Minister to join the investigation into loopholes that are unintended and join international cooperation to close these loopholes. I expect that from Malta. I would also implore the Prime Minister, especially as he is from the social democratic family, that he join efforts to introduce the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, because that is the European response for making the tax system efficient and fair and I also count on Malta on this.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with being different, but I hope the Maltese Prime Minister will join with the European Parliament and fight for fair and efficient taxation in Europe.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE). – Senhor Presidente, Senhor Primeiro-Ministro, Senhor Comissário, penso que é preciso sublinhar três pontos a este respeito.

O primeiro é que é vergonhoso o que se passa em Malta há muito tempo e, portanto, em particular, a forma como isto veio a público, através dos Panamá Papers, mostra que nós não podemos manter, no espaço da União Europeia, este tipo de regulação que dá azo a manobras menos transparentes.

Em segundo lugar, devo dizer que não é apenas Malta e, portanto, nós temos de combater esta competição fiscal ao nível de toda a União Europeia e, por isso, a harmonização fiscal é uma prioridade porque há vários outros sítios que se prestam a este tipo de práticas menos transparentes.

E, finalmente, dizer aqui que me associo por completo àquele grito ou àquele manifesto do meu colega Nuno Melo, quando em Portugal, de forma totalmente ilegal, se retiraram da lista negra dos offshores a Ilha de Man, Jersey e o Uruguai. Portanto, queria também dar nota disto porque isto deve ser investigado pela Comissão Panamá Papers.

 
  
 

Intervenciones con arreglo al procedimiento de solicitud incidental de uso de la palabra («catch the eye»)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Nuno Melo (PPE). – Senhor Presidente, não é normal um membro de um governo de um Estado omitir informação relevante de uma comissão de inquérito do Parlamento Europeu, mas foi isso que fez o Secretário de Estado português Rocha Andrade. Não explicou um acordo secreto para retirar o Panamá da lista negra num tempo em que fazia parte de um governo. Confessou não ter pedido parecer à Autoridade Tributária portuguesa para retirar três offshores de uma lista negra contra a legislação nacional e omitiu um parecer negativo das Finanças que era contra a retirada do Uruguai da lista negra.

Exatamente por isto, solicitei do Presidente da Comissão de Inquérito que o Sr. Secretário de Estado Rocha Andrade pudesse, na próxima missão a Portugal, ter uma nova oportunidade e esclarecer aquilo que omitiu no Parlamento Europeu. É importante saber como é que, contra a lei, contra pareceres das Finanças, se retiram da lista negra offshores em Portugal. Sobre isso, espero que compareça na próxima missão a Portugal.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ana Gomes (S&D). – Senhor Presidente, vai manter Keith Schembri e Konrad Mizzi, ambos expostos nos Panama Papers, no seu Governo? Se sim, vai continuar vulnerável, apesar de ter ganho eleições. E o pior é que vulnerabiliza, assim, mais a reputação do seu país, já abalada por assentar prosperidade e desenvolvimento em indústrias de serviços financeiros e de eGaming que servem a criminalidade organizada e servem a corruptos do mundo inteiro para branquear capitais e fugirem a pagar impostos.

Ainda recentemente, o semanário Expresso, publicado no meu país, Portugal, expôs a forma como o seu país é utilizado por pessoas politicamente expostas e empresários para criarem empresas de fachada que servem de plataforma para disfarçar a origem ilícita do património e, a partir de Malta, investirem no sistema financeiro europeu, beneficiando de chorudos benefícios fiscais.

O programa de venda de cidadania e de residência para pessoas ou empresas, que vem publicitado na revista da Air Malta, é a ilustração do esquema descarado de dumping fiscal e de facilitação de branqueamento em que, desgraçadamente, Malta não está sozinha entre os Estados-Membros da União Europeia.

Temo que, no relatório da Comissão de Inquérito sobre os Panama Papers, Malta não se destaque por trabalhar por valores europeus, nem, muito menos, valores socialistas e trabalhistas, mas sim por parecer e ser um paraíso fiscal europeu, entre outros. Temos que acabar com eles.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Τάκης Χατζηγεωργίου (GUE/NGL). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, στη ζούγκλα όλα τα ζώα είναι ίσα, αλλά το λιοντάρι είναι λίγο πιο ίσο. Δεν υπάρχει κανένας που δεν μπορεί να καταγγείλει ότι δεν πρέπει να επιτρέπεται ο παράνομος χρηματισμός, είτε αυτό αναφέρεται στη Μάλτα, είτε στην Κύπρο, είτε σε οποιοδήποτε άλλο κράτος. Αλλά να μην «πετάξουμε το μωρό μαζί με τη μπανιέρα». Σε μια συζήτηση στην επιτροπή για τα «Panama papers», που είμαι μέλος, λέχθηκε ότι μια εταιρεία φυλάει παράνομο χρήμα σε 60 σημεία στον πλανήτη και βρήκαμε ότι μόνο σε ένα σημείο κρύβει 70 δισεκατομμύρια. Και τον μέσο όρο να βάλεις, βγάζεις 1 τρισεκατομμύριο, και δεν ασχολήθηκε κανένας με αυτό το ζήτημα. Ένα τρισεκατομμύριο σώζει την παγκόσμια οικονομική κρίση και ταΐζει όλο τον ανθρώπινο πληθυσμό που πεινά. Λοιπόν, να εξεταστεί και η Μάλτα, να εξεταστούν και άλλα κράτη, να εξεταστεί και το Jersey και το Guernsey, γιατί η απομόνωση δίνει την εντύπωση ότι δεν είμαστε καθαροί στο πώς αντιμετωπίζουμε το ζήτημα.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Romana Tomc (PPE). – Lahko sprejmemo tisoč zakonov, pa z njimi ne bomo preprečili korupcije. Lahko imamo tisoč institucij, pa te ne bodo odkrile kriminala. Vse je odvisno od tega, ali so zakoni pisani za izbrance, ki na ta način celo legalizirajo svoja dejanja.

In ali so institucije, ki naj bi bile neodvisne, zares neodvisne?

Afera Panama Papers je zbudila veliko pozornosti in kar nekaj vrzeli za davčne utaje smo zaprli zaradi tega, vendar to je seveda šele začetek. Vsak dan se pojavi kakšna nova afera.

Samo nekaj dni nazaj je izbruhnila tudi afera v zvezi z največjo slovensko banko, za katero obstaja sum, da je sodelovala pri pranju iranskega denarja.

Vsi govorimo o vladavini prava, tudi premier Muscat, in obsojamo korupcijo. Dobro bi bilo seveda, da ne bi samo govorili, ampak bi se tega tudi držali.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Señor presidente. Hace un rato debatíamos aquí, en este Pleno del Parlamento Europeo, sobre una Europa basada en valores, la que echamos de menos cuando vemos los incumplimientos en materia migratoria, cuando vemos la falta de unión para hacer frente al populista en jefe Donald Trump cuando se retira del cambio climático con una diplomacia humanitaria que dé una respuesta humanitaria a la crisis, pero también cuando luchamos contra la evasión fiscal y contra el fraude fiscal.

Primer ministro Muscat: por supuesto, saludamos su compromiso.

Pero, comisario Moscovici: es muy importante que los trabajos de la Comisión de Investigación sobre Blanqueo de Capitales y Elusión y Evasión Fiscales no se centren ni en Nevada ni en Hong Kong, sino en la desigualdad tributaria aquí, en la Unión Europea, dentro de la Unión Europea. Porque las resoluciones fiscales, el papel de los abogados, de los asesores fiscales y de los bancos están pidiendo a gritos un esfuerzo de armonización fiscal en Europa y desde Europa.

Por eso, la comisión de investigación tiene que empedrar el camino hacia una nueva legislación que acabe con las lagunas, los agujeros legales y los muchos trucos que permiten que los defraudadores se sigan saliendo con la suya.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Tibor Szanyi (S&D). – Elnök Úr! Engedjék meg, hogy egy pillanatra visszautaljak a korábbi kérdésemre kapott válaszra. Valóban, itt most Málta van a porondon, ezzel együtt szerintem ez a vita azért mégiscsak az Európai Unióról kell, hogy szóljon. Azok a jelenségek, amiket mi itt most szóvá teszünk, ezek Európa nagyon sok országában vannak, és elképesztő milliárdokat von el az európai fejlődéstől, az európai adófizetőktől. Én éppen ezért tartom nagyon-nagyon fontosnak, hogy ennek a mai vitának legyen az a fontos tanulsága, hogy nem csak egy országot kinézünk, és akkor ott minden vádat el lehet mondani, hanem az egész problémát összességében kell kezelni, mert amint mondtam, hogy Orbán Viktor Magyarországon százszor annyi disznóságot csinál, mint amit itt vádként egyébként a teremben hallottunk, ez tény. Például az állampolgársági program, amit Orbán kormánya folytat kizárólag és szigorúan offshore műveletek tárgya. Na, ezek azok, amiket nem hagyhat egy európai közösség.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Doru-Claudian Frunzulică (S&D). – Mr President, I welcome the fact that the PANA inquiry committee in the European Parliament has been taking the Maltese case seriously and organised a fact-finding mission to Valletta in February 2017. It seems that on the one hand the Maltese tax system is in line with current international EU standards as regards harmful tax competition, but that, nonetheless, the system provides for advantages, making it highly attractive for business and wealthy individuals to settle there. Moreover, a high number of intermediaries from Malta were involved in the Panama papers, with some intermediaries having worked with politically-exposed persons.

It is regrettable that Keith Schembri refused to appear to be before PANA, and that institutions in charge of implementing and enforcing rules as regards tax fraud and money laundering were highly politicised. This must be condemned by all means.

And the other side, last but not least, allow me to praise the successful activity of Malta leading the EU Council.

 
  
 

(Fin de las intervenciones con arreglo al procedimiento de solicitud incidental de uso de la palabra («catch the eye»))

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Pierre Moscovici, membre de la Commission. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Premier Ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, merci de m’avoir invité et d’avoir invité la Commission à participer à ce débat, qui m’a donné l’occasion de rappeler tout ce que la Commission et l’Union ont fait pour rendre la fiscalité plus transparente, plus efficace et plus juste dans l’Union européenne.

La Commission est au courant, bien sûr, des liens établis entre les «Panama Papers» et Malte, qui font l’objet d’enquêtes judiciaires à Malte. La raison pour laquelle nous ne nous sommes pas prononcés est très simple, c’est que la Commission ne peut pas commenter des enquêtes en cours. Il y a un principe qui existe dans toutes nos démocraties: celui de la séparation des pouvoirs et de l’indépendance du pouvoir judiciaire, que nous ne pouvons évidemment pas remettre en cause.

M. Giegold a déclaré qu’une lettre a été envoyée aujourd’hui à la Commission. Celle-ci en prendra connaissance et y répondra.

Je veux simplement insister sur trois points. Le premier, c’est que plusieurs d’entre vous nous ont expliqué que nous avons une vision restrictive des paradis fiscaux lorsque nous considérons qu’il n’y a pas de paradis fiscaux dans l’Union européenne. Cela ne signifie en rien que nous ignorons qu’il peut y avoir des problèmes et des pratiques dommageables dans l’Union européenne, qui font l’objet d’enquêtes, mais un paradis fiscal, c’est autre chose, si nous voulons raisonner en toute rigueur. Pourquoi? Un paradis fiscal, c’est un pays qui ne respecterait pas les normes internationales et, au-delà, les règles en matière de transparence et de lutte contre l’évasion fiscale qui sont maintenant inscrites dans le droit européen. J’ai parlé de leadership européen parce que, grâce à l’action déterminée que nous menons, le droit européen va bien au-delà des normes internationales. Tous les pays européens ont d’ailleurs adopté ces règles de droit. Ils les mettent tous en œuvre et ils montrent qu’ils ont la nécessité et la volonté de respecter ces engagements.

Il y a eu aussi plusieurs mécanismes, que j’appellerai le soft law, comme la mise en place d’un code de conduite sur les pratiques dommageables en matière fiscale. Il est donc absolument nécessaire de prendre des mesures fortes pour lutter contre les pratiques fiscales injustes dans l’Union. Mais qualifier pour autant tel ou tel État membre de paradis fiscal en soi n’est pas, selon moi, une démarche intellectuellement satisfaisante ou rigoureuse. Par conséquent, la Commission ne la proposera pas.

En ce qui concerne l’action contre le blanchiment d’argent, la Commission considère que la transparence et l’accès à l’information sur les bénéficiaires effectifs sont des points très importants pour lutter contre le blanchiment d’argent et contre l’évasion et la fraude fiscales. La Commission défend sa proposition, parce que nous la considérons comme proportionnée et équilibrée entre, d’une part, la nécessité de doter les autorités d’instruments nécessaires pour lutter contre la fraude fiscale et le blanchiment d’argent et, d’autre part, l’efficacité, qui est aussi indispensable.

Enfin, je réponds notamment à M. Ferber, qui affiche les lettres que nous pouvons lui adresser. Je lui en enverrai d’autres qui, j’espère, seront également affichables et qui seront également suivies d’effets. Sur les demandes d’accès aux documents, la Commission, à travers ses différentes directions générales, notamment DG TAXUD, DG JUST et DG FISMA, travaille dur – je le dis aussi au président Langen – pour accéder aux demandes légitimes de la commission PANA (commission d’enquête chargée d’examiner les allégations d’infraction et de mauvaise administration dans l’application du droit de l’Union en matière de blanchiment de capitaux, d’évasion fiscale et de fraude fiscale) concernant l’accès aux documents.

Monsieur le Président, vous pouvez porter témoignage que nous avons déjà remis des centaines de documents à cette commission, avec laquelle je me réjouis de pouvoir travailler dans les meilleures conditions. En particulier, je vais citer deux choses. À l’étape où nous sommes, plus de 850 documents ont été chargés sur la plateforme internet ouverte dans le cadre de la commission PANA. En outre, pas moins de 697 autres documents confidentiels (dont 375 pour la DG TAXUD, dont j’ai la responsabilité) ont été procurés à la commission PANA dans une chambre de lecture sécurisée. On comprendra qu’on doit aussi respecter un certain nombre d’informations personnelles sur des contribuables. En tout cas, il ne nous revient pas de les rendre publiques. Mais je veux que cette action de transparence soit menée jusqu’au bout, et vous savez bien – je m’adresse ici aux députés au Parlement européen – que s’il y a des lacunes, ici ou là, ce n’est pas le fait de la Commission, mais davantage celui des États membres, qui doivent également coopérer.

Voilà ce que je voulais dire dans le cadre de ce débat dont je mesure l’importance. Ce débat ne doit esquiver aucune situation. Il doit respecter en même temps la séparation des pouvoirs et doit faire justice aux États membres et à leur action pour intégrer de nouvelles réglementations européennes dans leur propre droit national. Il doit également continuer une lutte ardente, sans faiblir, contre la fraude et l’évasion fiscales.

Nous avons obtenu, au cours des dernières années, des résultats extrêmement importants. D’ailleurs, nombre d’affaires dont nous parlons sont des affaires qui découlent de failles ou de lacunes dans la législation précédente. Elles ne pourraient pas se reproduire à l’avenir. Ce n’est pas une raison pour ne pas considérer qu’il faille aller jusqu’au bout des enquêtes, mais c’est une raison pour la Commission de poursuivre son action législative en la matière jusqu’au bout et de demander aux États membres de ne pas faiblir, de ne pas faillir et d’être à nos côtés dans ces avancées que votre Parlement, je le sais, soutient et promeut avec nous, et même plus ardemment que nous.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta. – Mr President, I expect some of you would be expecting me to be angry after this debate. Actually I am not: I am very happy to be here; I consider this as a natural second home for me, and I do understand the spirit of this debate. I do understand the political narrative of it all. So allow me to reply in kind and to be tongue and cheek in my replies and very candid and very open in the way I try to address the concerns that you have put forward.

I do understand, as a politician, the timing of the debate, and I do appreciate that a majority in this House did not agree to the fact that such a debate takes place during an electoral campaign. This is a much more serene setting for such a debate. I welcome, first of all, Mr Weber’s wishes. I thank him for his contribution to our campaign back in Malta. He said that the only politicians mentioned in the Panama Papers were Maltese – I am sorry, it is not true. We have a Commissioner from the EPP family who is mentioned in those papers – his own family. No one is saying anything about that.

(Mr Langen, I have not interrupted you: please listen to me, hear me out.)

No one said anything about that, so I do believe that that was the first incorrect fact. But, really and truly, there are three ways in which this debate has gone: there is the debate on the Panama Papers, there is the debate on the issue of taxation, and there is then an outright lie that has been said.

Let’s start with the debate on the Panama papers, with many Members asking why there is not an investigation. I think Ms Metsola said quite clearly: there are four investigations taking place in court by independent judges, and they will decide whether there is room for prosecution. There already has been a commitment that, if there is such room for prosecution, resignations would be in order. I am amazed that this basic fact was not taken into consideration. There are four independent judicial investigations taking place. That is the most basic fact that, I am sorry, quite a number of Members got wrong. I do believe the problem is that most of the time, Members and colleagues are sourcing their facts simply from the social media and not trying to dig little bit deeper to try to ascertain the veracity of fact.

Secondly, I do believe, and I do bring to your attention, the fact that some of the conclusions that you were referring to were really and truly denied by the same independent institutions that are being quoted, including the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. I must say that I will keep on mentioning a number of facts that I think need to be ascertained. Let me start with our tax system. Malta’s imputation tax system is quite unique in Europe, that’s true. It has not been invented or put in during the past 4 or 10 years. It has been there since World War II. It has been scrutinised by the Commission prior to our joining the European Union more than 11 years ago. It is OECD-compliant. Some might not like it; some might say it is competitive. The fact is that it has undergone all levels of scrutiny by all organisations.

I also believe that there are two ways in which we can go on the taxation element. On one I agree with this House, and I will show how, in practice, we as a government and also as a presidency have gone to lengths not only not to obstruct the advancement of dossiers in this area but actually to conclude dossiers that are quite thorny: ATAD II – the anti-tax avoidance directive, the second recast; BEPS – the erosion of profits, profit shifting. These are all issues that have been concluded or where progress has been achieved under the Maltese Presidency. I think that is a fact that should be taken into consideration.

I must also stress the fact that our government and also as a whole, we are part of the OECD exchange of information. Some mentioned the ‘Malta files’. There is nothing secret. The people who have companies back at home are publicly available on the internet. The only exercise that was made was a consolidation of elements where, instead of searching a company, one searches a name. I invite you to take a look at the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index. You will find at least five Member States – and not necessarily the usual suspects – who are ranked lower than Malta when it comes to secrecy and transparency. We have done away with banking secrecy more than a decade and a half ago. We are not the last people to come to join this fight against avoidance and evasion. The point where we disagree is where Member States should not be let and left to decide their own tax levels. That is something that I totally disagree with the majority of this House about. I might remain in a minority on this, but that is something that I believe is fundamental and is also fundamental for a number of other Member States, irrespective of the composition of our economy. It is not true that our economy is dependent on financial services: that shows a lack of knowledge about the structure of the smallest Member State’s economy. Maybe it is not too much important for some of you over here, but if you look at the basic numbers, our main exports are microchips. In almost all your mobile phones, you will find a microchip proudly made in Malta. We are not a mailbox economy; we are an economy that produces value added. Trying to put a caricature of all this – I can accept it in a tabloid, but really and truly, I expect a more informed debate in such a House.

Let me move on to some other issues. I said the independence of institutions, but also the way in which we source our information and the way in which we direct debates. Yes, quite a number of you relied on reports that were on media. None of you – I am surprised – referred to the Moneyval reports. I believe that we all trust Moneyval. It is an institution that is not political. It is an institution that sees each and every jurisdiction, makes recommendations and is very tough. Moneyval has a positive report about our country.

FSAP – let’s refer to the facts. It is not about who tweets and who posts on the internet. It is about experts telling us what to do in the same way that Greco, the Council of Europe, told us: ‘you guys don’t have a system of party financing, we don’t know who is financing your political parties’. Guess what? We introduced the system. Guess what? We are now totally compliant with the system and we are implementing it. It is not a law just there for the sake of being there. Unfortunately the opposition does not like it, but fortunately enough we are all compliant with it.

Which brings me to some other points which I would like to make, which is really the third point, which some of you have referred to. I am really sorry that Mr Langen is no longer here, or at least I do not see him. Some people in this House have referred to a story – a totally outright lie – that has been directed against me, my wife and my family, namely that I have some sort of structure – account, funds – that I took from some contract: this is an outright lie. Whenever I ask someone to tell me the source of all this, everyone points at the same blog and report, which is unsubstantiated. And you know what? We respect so much the rule of law that, as Prime Minister, I went to court and I asked the court – an independent institution, where I have already as Prime Minister divested myself of the right enjoyed by my predecessors to nominate people to the bench (but now people come to the bench after being vetted by independent lawyers and prosecutors) – to appoint a magistrate to investigate these allegations. I said more than that; I said that, not only if there is some evidence that is put forward but if there is a shred of truth, I will immediately resign. I put myself on the line, for the simple reason I know it is totally untrue. Those who made the allegations, I asked them: ‘would you want to pledge your political career if what you are saying is false?’ No, they did not take up the challenge. Maltese people judged also based on this fact. What politician would pledge his whole career totally on one statement, on one assertion? I do not even bat an eyelid doing that, because I know I am saying the truth. I marvel at the idea that some extremely knowledgeable Members of this House have taken this thing, this fake news, and repeated it here just like that.

So my point to Mr Langen and to some colleagues is: why aren’t you coming to the PANA Committee?’ I said about a month, a month and a half ago, I am coming to the PANA Committee. If you do not get this basic fact right, I am sorry, please check your press reviews or fire the people who are making them for you. I said I would be coming. I said I would be coming once the judge comes out with the independent investigation – one of the four independent investigations – to be able to present to the PANA Committee not what the Prime Minister of Malta is saying, but facts ascertained by the judiciary. And I am amazed that such a basic fact has been overlooked when there is such – what I deem to be – a serious debate, or which should have been a serious debate.

I will conclude, Mr President. The second part of the topic for discussion is the rule of law. Let me take some time to say what we do back at home about the rule of law. May I remind you, The Economist classifies Malta as one of the few countries which is a full democracy. Some other Member States are not full democracies, but I will not judge them.

What have we done? First of all, we have a totally independent National Audit Office that criticises government whenever it deems needs to criticise the government; a government that, when it has reports, takes corrective action. We have an ombudsman, who is critical of all institutions and of all governments, irrespective of which party forms that government; a Public Service Commission that is made up of representatives from all sides of the House. We have an independent judiciary which, even during the last legislature, decided that the opposition should have two extra seats; we disagreed with that ruling, but we said: yes, we will implement that ruling, because we observe the rule of law. We have an Attorney General, who was not changed after the election. We kept the same Attorney General who was nominated by the previous government, and now this person of high integrity gets attacked because some people in the opposition do not like the way in which he is giving advice. We have the Chair of our Financial Services Regulatory Authority, who was appointed by the previous administration. We kept him in office.

We have removed time-barring on issues of corruption. I mentioned a number of other facts, such as the removal of parliamentary immunity, and very soon the implementation of a commissioner for public standards. We will be having, for the first time, hearings in our Parliament for appointing regulators. We have enacted a Freedom of Information Act. We have relaxed media laws in a way that now they are one of the most, if not the most, liberal in Europe. Not only did we not put constraints on journalists, we have even relaxed the way in which journalists are required to put forward issues related to sources. And we have removed criminal libels in order to prevent journalists from being put in prison – laws that have been there even after we joined the European Union, and we managed to remove them.

In doing all this, then, we managed to achieve success, and I do believe that there might be some people who are not too keen on our economic success and social success. We not only have the best-performing economy in the Eurozone – and that is not because of financial services and gaming alone, it is about tourism, manufacturing, the services industry; it is about the honest, busy people that go to work each and every day. We have increased our pensions; we have increased the minimum wage; we have introduced universal free childcare; we have put Malta from number 20-whatever on the ILGA list for LGBTIQ rights to number one in Europe.

This is prosperity with a purpose; this is the sort of debate I would love to have in this House. I do not have a problem in having the debate that we just had. I do hope that, when I appear in front of the PANA Committee with the facts – and I assure Mr Langen that I will appear in front of the Committee; I am not a Volkswagen that says one thing but does another – I keep my word. I will be here to present facts, and those facts, hopefully, will show how misguided some colleagues, unfortunately, have been. Having said that, I love this institution and I will continue to stick up for this institution.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Helena Dalli, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, I mentioned earlier the ongoing efforts in the Council on the different files in the area of the fight against tax evasion, fraud and avoidance, and I can assure you that in the weeks before the end of our presidency we will do our utmost to achieve all the progress possible on these files. I am also confident that our Estonian colleagues will pursue this work in the coming months in this area, which is a priority for the Council.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  El Presidente. – Se cierra el debate.

Declaraciones por escrito (artículo 162 del Reglamento)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Clara Eugenia Aguilera García (S&D), por escrito. – Los llamados papeles de Panamá han puesto de relieve por un lado que las normas europeas por exigentes que sean, no bastan sin la cooperación de países terceros, en concreto por la plena adopción de estándares más fuertes en el marco de la OCDE, y por otro la existencia de complejos esquemas de planificación fiscal agresiva y elusión en la que participan al alimón jurisdicciones terceras, como es el caso de Panamá, y determinados Estados miembros, como Holanda, Luxemburgo y Malta. Así, es típico crear una sociedad sin actividad económica real en Panamá, Gibraltar o un país similar, y después abrir la cuenta bancaria donde se encuentran los activos de dicha sociedad en Luxemburgo. El intercambio automático de información, y los registros de sociedades con identificación de los beneficiarios finales son instrumentos fundamentales en la lucha contra la elusión, pero también necesitamos normas que controlen a los intermediarios, asunto en el que la Comisión está trabajando, y poner fin a la planificación fiscal agresiva por el lado de la demanda, es decir, la llamada especialización de determinadas jurisdicciones, incluyendo Estados miembros, en la creación y registro de sociedades y en la gestión de grandes fortunas.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marco Valli (EFDD), per iscritto. – Per anni l'UE ha sempre chiuso un occhio sulla presenza dei paradisi fiscali al suo interno, nei quali sono state trasferite ingenti risorse, a danno di altri paesi europei, spesso gli stessi, su cui veniva imposto un duro regime di austerità. Tra il 2012 e 2015, Malta avrebbe sottratto ad altri paesi UE circa EUR 14 miliardi in mancato gettito fiscale, grazie a un sistema fiscale distorsivo, basato su un'aliquota effettiva sui profitti d'impresa del 5% e l'assenza di tassazione su interessi e royalty. I Panama Papers avevano rivelato collegamenti tra personalità del gabinetto del Primo Ministro maltese, tuttora in carica, e alcune società clienti di Mossak Fonseca. Eppure, l'UE continua ad ostacolare l'adozione di ambiziose misure di trasparenza e di contrasto alle pratiche fiscali dannose, a partire dall'indispensabile lista nera dei paradisi fiscali all'interno dell'Unione, al fine di realizzare una reale cooperazione per contrastare la grande elusione internazionale e la criminalità finanziaria. Dai "Malta Files" emergono ora ulteriori criticità, legate al riciclaggio di denaro sporco, proveniente da attività mafiose, realizzato attraverso alcune società registrate sull'isola; nonché il ruolo di Malta come crocevia per il traffico illegale di armi. Uno scandalo legato alle persistenti lacune della legislazione anti-riciclaggio, su cui, Commissione e soprattutto Consiglio, non intendono fare concreti passi avanti.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL), por escrito. – El debate de hoy podría titularse: «Papeles de Panamá y Estado de Derecho en España», pues Panamá es uno de los paraísos fiscales favoritos de la derecha española. Ministros y exministros del PP, como los señores Rato y Soria, aparecen en los Papeles. Incluso el fiscal jefe de Anticorrupción, favorito del actual ministro de Justicia, tuvo que dimitir cuando la prensa reveló sus sociedades panameñas. Según el Gestha, la dejadez de Hacienda permite que tres de cada cuatro delitos fiscales queden sin investigar. Y dados los lazos del actual Gobierno del PP con corruptos y corruptores, nada cambiará si la UE no toma cartas en el asunto. La UE pierde hasta 237 000 millones al año por la evasión fiscal a Panamá, un 3,4 % de su gasto público, del dinero para hospitales, escuelas y viviendas que los ricos esquilman a la clase trabajadora. Por ello le pido que no sea cómplice y que actúe catalogando de una vez a Panamá como paraíso fiscal.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Evelyn Regner (S&D), schriftlich. – Die Panama Papers haben einiges aufgedeckt: Briefkastenfirmen, Geheimniskrämerei und Gewinnverschiebungen über fragwürdige Unternehmenskonstrukte. Im Untersuchungsausschuss haben wir aber vor allem auch gelernt, dass wir Europa gar nicht verlassen müssen, um Offshore-Konstrukte, Briefkastenfirmen, Geldwäscherei und aggressivste Steuerplanung zu finden. Bevor wir unseren Blick also nach Panama werfen, müssen wir auch dringend bei uns selbst aufräumen. Vorschläge für Steuergerechtigkeit liegen bereits auf dem Tisch, etwa die öffentliche länderweise Berichterstattung von Multis. Anstatt die Lehren aus Panama zu ziehen, wollen die Konservativen Panama aber lieber wieder verhüllen. Am Montag haben die konservativen Kräfte den Vorschlag für Public CBCR, also echte Steuertransparenz, mit ihren Emmentaler Amendments stark verwässert. ECR, ALDE und die EVP sind Protektionisten der globalen Multis. Der Kampf für echte Steuertransparenz geht aber weiter, und ich erwarte mir Unterstützung im Plenum und im Rat. Es darf nicht sein, dass sich alle über Panama & Co echauffieren, aber nicht handeln, wenn konkrete Vorschläge auf dem Tisch sind.

 
Rättsligt meddelande