The Commission was responding to a series of court and European Commission decisions on aggressive tax plans used by multinationals to move profits around EU member states to take advantage of lower taxes or so-called 'sweetheart deals'.
"The Commission's proposal only deals with part of the problem. Multinationals' financial information will be provided just to tax authorities while citizens, journalists and policy-makers will still be kept in the dark. Citizens have a right to know how much companies contribute to the societies they operate in," Elena Gaita, Policy Officer on Corporate Transparency at Transparency International EU told Sputnik.
In January 2016, the European Commission branded the Belgian "excess profit" tax scheme illegal under EU state aid rules and ordered the country to recover the US$760 million unpaid tax from the companies concerned, most of which are major multinationals.
In October 2015, the Commission ruled that Luxembourg and the Netherlands have granted selective tax advantages to Fiat and Starbucks, respectively. The Commission also has three ongoing in-depth investigations into concerns that tax rulings may give rise to state aid issues, concerning Apple in Ireland, Amazon in Luxembourg and McDonald's in Luxembourg.
Calls for Public Disclosure
The European Commission last week published a series of proposals to stamp out such schemes — including legally-binding measures to block the most common methods used by companies to avoid paying tax. It also proposed a recommendation to member states on how to prevent tax treaty abuse and a proposal for member states to share tax-related information on multinationals operating in the EU.
However, according to Transparency International, the EU should instead live up to its rhetoric on tax transparency and bring about the public reporting of multinational profits, taxes and other information, as is already the case in other sectors.
European Commission Press release — Fair Taxation: Commission presents new measures against corporate tax avoidance https://t.co/lveD4IjEfM— Open Europe (@OpenEurope) January 28, 2016
Elena Gaita told Sputnik that the European Commission is acting in a bizarre way by investigating tax avoidance practices on the one hand, while also failing to allow for the public access to corporate tax practices, as major companies will only have to disclose their profits to the tax authorities in private.
"It seems bizarre that one hand of the Commission spends so much time investigating tax rulings when another hand could save the hassle and simply make corporate tax practices transparent," Gaita told Sputnik.