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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Commenting on Theresa May becoming prime minister today, Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour's Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“The new prime minister urgently needs to reassure the public that she will protect our existing rights and not trade them away to appease her backbenchers in a headlong dash to trigger Article 50 and leave the EU.

“We need assurances on workers’ rights, on consumer rights, and on our national security. We need her to reassure EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals living in Europe that their rights will be protected. And crucially, she needs to give assurances on our continued access to the Single Market, upon which millions of jobs and billions of pounds of investment depend.

“Theresa May needs to demonstrate she understands the severity of the situation we are in, and to learn the lessons of David Cameron’s failures by engaging early with European leaders, making alliances, rebuilding the bridges he burnt, and not being beholden to the hardcore Tory Eurosceptics for whom no deal would ever be acceptable.”

Labour MEPs: Theresa May needs to give assurances on rights, security and access to EU Single Market

Wednesday, July 13, 2016Commenting on Theresa May becoming prime minister today, Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour's Leader in the European Parliament, said:

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The UK must continue to work closely with the European Union when it comes to tackling tax avoidance and evasion, come what may, writes
Anneliese Dodds MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on taxation.

Today marked the next stage of the European Parliament’s fight for tax justice: the first meeting of a new inquiry committee which will investigate the ‘Panama Papers’, those 11½ million documents leaked earlier this year which showed tax avoidance taking place on a staggering scale. I was pleased to take my seat as a member of that committee today.

The scale of the work we are about to undertake is hard to comprehend. We are going to be investigating the largest data leak in history - a scandal that showed just how much some multinational companies and private individuals have been able to take advantage of secrecy in order to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

But we are ready for the challenge, and I know our socialist colleagues in the European Parliament are too. Fighting tax avoidance and evasion has been at the heart of our agenda for years now, and our pressure is beginning to bear fruit. Just today, European finance ministers adopted a new “anti-tax avoidance directive” in order to crack down on large companies taking advantage of loopholes so as to reduce their tax liability.

The ministers also discussed the possibility of creating a public list of “beneficial ownership” - who really owns what - when it comes to both companies and trust arrangements. Finally, they took the first steps towards creating an EU-wide blacklist of tax havens.

These are all measures which I called for in a report I co-authored last year, and we are delighted to see progress being made and the EU leading the way in the global fight for tax justice. This progress simply would not have happened without a call to action from NGOs and civil society organisations, followed up by pressure from politicians within the European Parliament.

But the fight isn’t over. The new Panama Papers committee’s work will begin in earnest in September, when we will get to the bottom of just how those companies and individuals got away with their tax fiddling. We still have a long way to go before we have a proper list of tax havens and are able to impose tough sanctions on those countries and the companies which use them. Above all, we need to change the way the tax system operates, by introducing something called a “common consolidated corporate tax base” to make sure that tax is paid in the country where it is earned, and not shipped off to tax havens for the cheapest deal.

Obviously the result of the referendum, and the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, will have enormous repercussions for everything out here in Brussels and back at home. There will need to be a new relationship forged between the UK and the EU. Such a relationship must not involve a race to the bottom and the unravelling of all the hard-won gains we have made in the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion. I will not stand by and watch the Tory government turn the UK into an offshore tax haven for the rest of Europe.

That is why out here in Brussels I will play an active part in the new Panama Papers committee and make sure that we continue the European work on tax which has already started. And it is why back in the UK I have demanded the government establishes a body that includes NGOs, academics, business and trade unions to discuss the negotiating terms for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. We need a new deal that works for everyone in Britain, and not just the privileged few who have the ear of Tory grandees.

That means carrying on the fight for tax justice, in Westminster and in Brussels.

The Panama Papers scandal exposes why we must continue to work closely with Europe on tax

Tuesday, July 12, 2016The UK must continue to work closely with the European Union when it comes to tackling tax avoidance and evasion, come what may, writes Anneliese Dodds MEP,...

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Two weeks after Britain voted to leave the EU,
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, explains the role Labour MEPs will now play...

It has been a fortnight of chaos, turmoil and upheaval. These are indeed troubled times and it feels like everything has changed. Yet until the UK negotiates an exit from the European Union, it remains a member, and as Labour MEPs we will continue to work hard to ensure our constituents’ voices are represented in the EU and in any negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

Until the exit negotiations are complete, rules made in the EU will continue to apply in our country, and may still apply after, it all depends on the nature of a deal that leave campaigners and the Tory government have yet to spell out. And that is why we will continue to fulfil our role as MEPs, working and voting on EU legislation, and working with colleagues to ensure these policies are in line with our values. We will also work hard to hold the Leave campaigners and the Tory government to account for their European actions.

As Vote Leave’s promises lie shredded into 350 million pieces, their claims unravelling faster than they can delete them off their website, with more and more people regretting voting to leave, political, economic and constitutional uncertainty reigns, and several questions remain unanswered, the most obvious one being: what is their alternative to our current EU membership?

Despite having been campaigning for years for this to happen, obsessing about it their whole lives, Eurosceptics have failed to answer this simple, single question with any consistency. They failed to answer it during the campaign and they can’t answer it now.

They have also failed to answer what happens to UK nationals in the rest of the EU? What happens to EU nationals in the UK? What happens to our existing trade deals? Do we continue to have access to the Single Market? What happens to our rights that are guaranteed by EU law? What happens to our public services? What happens to the future of the UK? What happens to Gibraltar? Et cetera, et cetera. They have no clue, no plan and no credibility.

And how do they envisage us ever getting to whatever end position they eventually scrawl on the back of an envelope? How will they get the other 27 EU Member States to agree with it? Will they force this through without public consent through another referendum or a new mandate in Parliament following a general election?

Although this is not an easy time, there is work to be done. Labour MEPs will continue working on our priorities: to protect employment and consumer rights, jobs and the economy, and security and safety, come what may. With Britain voting to leave the European Union, the job of doing that will be harder, but until the exit deal is done, we will continue to take a stand on these issues, and we will work to make sure the gains we have made are not lost.

Unlike Boris, Farage and many of those who’ve plunged us into this mess, we’re not abandoning the field - we’ll keep fighting for our constituents to get the best we can for Britain, whatever happens next.

After the referendum, what role will Labour MEPs play now?

Thursday, July 7, 2016Two weeks after Britain voted to leave the EU, Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, explains the role Labour MEPs will now play...

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