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The UK government must back new EU anti-terror measures announced today, and maintain them and continue to cooperate with our European partners after Brexit, Labour MEPs warned.

The proposals include: increased financial support - the Commission is providing €18.5 million (£16.5m) to support EU-wide projects improving the protection of public spaces, with a further €100m (£90m) in 2018 to support cities investing in security solutions; guidance material related to the protection of public spaces and raising public awareness; exchange of best practice; and encouraging public-private security cooperation between local and regional authorities and private operators like shopping malls, concert organisers, sports arenas and car rental companies.

The Commission is also proposing to further strengthen the EU's external action on counter-terrorism, enhancing Europol’s cooperation with third countries, and recommending the opening of negotiations for counter-terror agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“Today's counter-terrorism package responds to our calls for further concrete measures following recent terrorist attacks. The new actions come at a critical time and will help EU countries prevent attacks on crowded areas that we have seen in Barcelona, London, Manchester and Stockholm by protecting public spaces.

“The proposals will also introduce measures to deprive terrorists of the means to carry out these attacks by making it harder to obtain the materials for home-made explosives, providing technical support for law enforcement and judicial authorities in criminal investigations, and new measures to tackle terrorist financing.

“It is vital the UK not only supports these measures, but keeps them and continues to cooperate with our EU partners after Brexit. We need to significantly reinforce our security throughout the EU while ensuring that all measures taken are in full respect of fundamental rights and the right to data protection.”

Thursday, October 18, 2017

Labour MEPs: UK must back new EU anti-terror measures and keep them after Brexit

The UK government must back new EU anti-terror measures announced today, and maintain them and continue to cooperate with our European partners after Brexit, Labour MEPs warned.

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Following the latest round of Brexit talks, Richard Corbett MEP, Labour’s acting leader in the European Parliament, sums up where we are ahead of next week’s meeting of EU leaders.

As had been widely expected, the Brexit talks have stalled, with no agreement on the major issues of citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and the UK’s financial liabilities. And on each of those key points, all of which the UK and EU agreed would need to be addressed before trade talks can begin, the negotiating teams are no nearer now to resolving disagreements than they were at the start of the week, and responsibility for that has to rest on the shoulders of the Tories, and the chaotic approach to the talks, which are of the utmost importance to the country.

In the past few days alone, Theresa May, in that car-crash LBC radio interview, refused to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain if the UK leaves without a deal; the Irish tax authorities said (pdf) “a completely open border is not possible” if Britain leaves the customs union; and the prime minister, once again acting in the interests of party not country, spent more time talking about setting money aside for a no-deal scenario rather than committing cash to avoid crashing out without a deal – as with the billion-pound bung to the DUP, the Tory government is more than capable of shaking the magic money tree when it wants to.

At the end of all of which, we’re back where we started, seemingly in the same position now as we were when Article 50 was triggered, more than six months ago. It’s like Groundhog Day, day after day, week after week, negotiating round after negotiating round, time ticking away to Brexit Day with no progress in sight.

Not that the UK government is in any way prepared for the gruelling task of post-Brexit trade negotiations – a Freedom of Information request this week revealed that on a recent Department of International Trade visit to the US, not only was the UK delegation outnumbered 77-27, but they had next to no experience of negotiating trade deals.

Never mind turning up to Wimbledon with a table tennis bat, the government’s approach to the Brexit talks is more akin to turning up to the court to find that before the first serve is faced, your racket has been broken. By your doubles partner.

Richard Corbett MEP is Labour’s acting leader in the European Parliament

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Brexit talks are like Groundhog Day, day after day, week after week, negotiating round after negotiating round

Following the latest round of Brexit talks, Richard Corbett MEP, Labour’s acting leader in the European Parliament, sums up where we are ahead of next week’s meeting of EU leaders....

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Britain must not become a safe space for tax avoiders after Brexit, Labour MEPs reiterated after the European Union today ordered Amazon to pay €250 million (£220m) in back taxes.

Amazon used an “empty shell” of a holding company in Luxembourg to shift profits out of Europe - the holding company had no employees and no offices, and wasn’t involved in developing intellectual property. Instead, it was simply there to cut Amazon’s tax bill, and ensure three-quarters of sales in Europe were untaxed.

Following a three-year investigation, Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said that under the company’s ‘sweetheart’ deal with Luxembourg - which amounted to illegal state aid - local companies paid four times as much tax as Amazon on the same profits.

Neena Gill MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on taxation, said:

“Today’s tax bill for Amazon shows the EU is taking action against tax avoidance by multinationals. It is vital the Tory government not only supports these measures, but ensures the UK remains committed to the fight against tax dodging after we leave the EU.

“Brexit Britain cannot become a safe space for multinationals like Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks and McDonald’s, companies whose tax practices the EU is clamping down on. It is unfair for big companies to benefit from preferential deals, while local businesses have to pay the full rate of tax.

“The race to the bottom on tax must stop, and we must make sure all companies, whatever their size, are able to compete in a fair environment.”

Europe’s commissioner for taxation, Pierre Moscovici, also announced a crackdown today on cross-border VAT fraud. Fraud involving VAT on goods exported to other member states costs EU taxpayers an estimated €50 billion (£45bn) a year, while the 'VAT gap' between expected revenue and revenue actually collected is estimated at €170bn (£150bn) a year.

VAT has to be paid in the country where the customer lives so if you sell goods to someone in another member state you don't have to pay VAT on them in your own country. It is possible to take advantage of this exemption by creating a fictitious company that buys VAT-free goods from another member state and then sells them with VAT in its own country before disappearing to avoid passing on the VAT to the tax authorities.

Neena Gill MEP added:

“The clampdown on VAT fraud is great news - the plans to reform the VAT taxation system should help eradicate the €50bn lost annually in cross-border fraud. It is a big issue in Britain, and the UK government must ensure it backs these plans and continues to cooperate with the EU in the fight against tax fraud after Brexit.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

As EU cracks down on Amazon, Labour MEPs warn Brexit Britain cannot become a safe space for tax dodgers

Britain must not become a safe space for tax avoiders after Brexit, Labour MEPs reiterated after the European Union today ordered Amazon to pay €250 million (£220m) in back taxes....

Read more

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