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EU citizens could access registers of beneficial owners of companies without having to demonstrate a “legitimate interest,” and trusts would have to meet the same transparency requirements as firms, under amendments, agreed by MEPs on Tuesday, to the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

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The EU Commission proposal to make it mandatory for EU member states to exchange information on their tax rulings received only a lukewarm welcome in Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Tuesday. However, the report by Markus Ferber (EPP, DE), voicing dismay at the directive’s limited scope and late entry into force, has already been overtaken by last week's ECOFIN Council deal, which watered down the Commission proposal even further.

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The EU Commission is asked to table measures to improve corporate tax transparency, coordination and EU-wide policy convergence in legislative recommendations voted by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Tuesday. These recommendations build on the work of Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings, set up in the wake of the “Luxleaks” revelations, whose recommendations were approved at the 26 November plenary session.

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Following today's Commission proposals for an EU wide response to corporate tax avoidance and to fight aggressive tax practices by large companies, chairman of Parliament's Special Committee on Tax Rulings Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR), the chairman of the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT) and the two co-rapporteurs in the field of corporate taxation Anneliese Dodds (S&D, UK) and Luděk Niedermayer (EPP, CZ) gave the following statements:

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The economic policies that the European Commission wants EU member states to apply in 2013 rely too heavily on austerity, many MEPs told Commissioners Rehn and Andor as they presented the Commission's newly-adopted Annual Growth Survey to Parliament on Wednesday Other MEPs doubted the Commission's ability to push through reforms, given the member states' unwillingness to cooperate. The latest developments in Greece were also raised.

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Savings deposits under €100,000 will finally be guaranteed by funds contributed by banks, rather than the taxpayer, thanks to a political agreement struck by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday. This agreement, three years in the making, will govern deposit guarantee schemes to be set up in each member state. Each fund must reach an amount equal to 0.8% of the covered deposits within ten years, and depositors will be sure to get their money back within 7 working days.

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MEPs questioned EU bailout fund chief Klaus Regling on Wednesday as part of their inquiry into the anti-crisis role and operations of the European Central Bank/IMF/EU Commission "Troika". Mr Regling recognised that the remedies had created hardship, but stressed that the severity of the crisis had made the decisions taken necessary. He also said that he envisaged a system without the IMF in the near future.

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The EU's crisis-fighting mechanism needs true democratic accountability, clear channels of responsibility, more consideration of social consequences, and an ability to correct policy recommendations when they prove inadequate. These were some of the first conclusions MEPs drew in Thursday's discussion on draft report analysing the operations of the European Central Bank/IMF/EU Commission “Troika”.

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On Monday evening MEPs welcomed the Commission's readiness to collaborate with Parliament in its inquiry into the operations of the Troika but were left underwhelmed by Commissioner Olli Rehn's answers to some of their questions, particularly on accountability, apportioning of responsibility and the reasons for repeated overly optimistic forecasts.

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The European Stability Mechanism's current legal setup would not allow it to become a "backstop" lender to a newly-created EU bank resolution fund, ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling told Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Pressed repeatedly on the matter, Mr Regling did however concede that he was open to considering other possible legal interpretations which could justify this role for the ESM.

       
 

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