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MEPs on Thursday adopted a resolution urging member states to work on long-overdue rules obliging multinationals to disclose what taxes they pay in each country.

The resolution, adopted by 572 votes in favour, 42 against and 21 abstentions, urges member states to agree a position on the legislative proposal requiring public country-by-country reporting of taxes paid by multinationals. This would allow talks between member states and the European Parliament to begin, in view of agreeing on a final text of the rules.

Parliament already backed this proposed legislation in 2017. EU ministers have, however, failed to adopt a position and, as a result, no law has been adopted as yet.

During the debate on Tuesday, MEPs underlined that corporate taxation is an area of great concern to people and that by not acting for so long, the member states had badly let down citizens . MEPs stressed that citizens have a right to know where multinationals pay their taxes and that this transparency is essential to limit the recurrent scandals which have come to light in recent years. They also said that if the EU was unable to tackle tax havens within its own walls, it would be difficult for Europe to be credible on the international stage when it came to tax matters.

You can watch the debate again here.

Background

The rules should make taxes more transparent by providing the public with a picture of the taxes paid by multinationals, and where those taxes are paid. Currently, multinationals are only required to indicate an aggregate of the taxes they have paid, without detailing what was paid to which tax jurisdiction. The proposal aims to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, which is estimated to cost EU countries EUR 50-70 billion a year in lost tax revenues, according to the European Commission.