martes, 11 de octubre de 2016

MEPs discussed economic outlook and challenges at the IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC

A delegation of members of the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) attended the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington D.C. from 6 - 9 October.

After the meetings, delegation leader Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT) made the following statement:

"We have been struck by the way the so-called political risks deriving from populism have featured in the discussions at the IMF this year. I agree with the IMF assessment that euro area monetary policy must be complemented by structural reforms and a quality-led fiscal policy in order to relaunch growth and address the output gap in some Member States in a consistent way. In our meetings with the IMF there was a sense that we should not lose the momentum towards deepening the EMU. Regarding Greece and debt relief, euro area interlocutors reiterated their commitment to implement the Eurogroup statement of 25 May 2016 aiming at delivering debt relief at the end of the programme in mid-2018. Brexit was also raised at several meetings. I can only reiterate what many others have already said: access to the single Market goes hand in hand with the fundamental EU freedoms, without cherry-picking."

Apart from ECON chairman Roberto Gualtieri, the delegation included Pablo Zalba Bidegain (EPP, ES), Werner Langen (EPP, DE), Siegfried Muresan (EPP, RO), Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR), Jakob von Weizsäcker (S&D, DE) and Bernd Lucke (ECR, DE). The members met with IMF Executive Directors and high ranking officials for discussions on the European economic and fiscal situation, financial stability, the financial assistance programme in Greece and on economic governance of the euro area. It also held bilateral discussions with the Spanish Finance Minister, Luis de Guindos and the Portuguese Finance and Treasury Secretary, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, regarding the follow-up to the possible suspension of European funds to Spain and Portugal in the context of the on-going excessive deficit procedure.

LIST OF MEETINGS (in chronological order)

  • EU Ambassador David O’SULLIVAN
  • Commission Vice-President Valdis DOMBROVSKIS 
  • Commissioner MOSCOVICI
  • Maurice OBSTFELD, IMF Chief Economist
  • Hervé de VILLEROCHÉ, IMF Executive Director (France)
  • Stephen FIELD, IMF Executive Director (UK)
  • James HALEY, IMF Executive Director (Canada)
  • Cyril MULLER, World Bank VP for Europe and Central Asia
  • Axel VAN TROTSENBURG, World Bank VP of Development Finance
  • Jeff HURLEY, Committee Director for State-Federal Relations at the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL)
  • David SILBERMAN, Deputy Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Nicolas VERON, Visiting Fellow at the Peterson Institute
  • Rasmus RUEFFER, Permanent Representative of the ECB in Washington DC
  • Luis DE GUINDOS JURADO, Minister of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain
  • Ricardo MOURINHO, State Secretary of Treasury and Finance of Portugal
  • Klaus REGLING, Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)
  • Ratna SAHAY, IMF Deputy Director, Monetary and Capital Markets Department
  • Carlo COTTARELLI, IMF Executive Director (Italy)
  • Fernando JIMÉNEZ LATORRE, IMF Executive Director (Spain)
  • Mahmood PRADHAN, IMF Deputy Director, European Department
  • Steffen MEYER, IMF Executive Director for Germany

jueves, 15 de septiembre de 2016

Apple tax deal: Controversial ruling backed by MEPs

Ireland’s political isolation over the Apple ruling was laid bare on Wednesday as MEPs overwhelmingly backed the EU’s finding that the State had offered illegal state aid to the US multinational.

In a highly-charged, though sparsely attended, debate at the European Parliament, MEPs from across the political spectrum lined up to congratulate EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on her decision against Ireland.

“Citizens who have been asked for great sacrifices cannot understand that big multinationals do not participate in this collective effort,” said Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain.

“We as European citizens have to thank for the commissioner for her effort and for remaining so strong on the Apple case. These kinds of actions undoubtedly contribute to European citizens seeing [the European Union] as part of a solution not as a problem.”

Green MEP Sven Gielgold, a long-time tax justice campaigner, said Ms Vestager “deserved a medal” for her actions, while his colleague Philippe Lamberts said he wanted to “clone” the Danish commissioner for taking on multinationals.

German centre-right MEP Markus Ferber congratulated Ms Vestager in finding the “right lever” for tackling unfair taxation through state aid law, “even though it rewards those who ought to be punished”, referring to Ireland’s decision not to accept the €13 billion in recovered taxes.

Other MEPs referred to the funds that were extended to Ireland during the bailout, while a French MEP recalled how she had raised concerns about tax competition with former commissioner Charlie McCreevy.


While the European Parliament has little power over EU competition policy, it has taken a leading role in efforts to clamp down on multitax avoidance by establishing special tax committees in the wake of the Luxembourg Leaks and Panama Papers scandals.

Fine Gael’s Seán Kelly and Brian Hayes were among the only MEPs to question the European Commission ruling. Mr Kelly referred to it as “profoundly wrong and extremely damaging to Ireland”, while Mr Hayes accused the commission of displaying a determination “to get Apple from the start of this investigation”.

More News:

Pablo Zalba Bidegain: “We must say loud and clear that the party is over. Although multinationals create jobs they must pay taxes and we need a consolidated tax basis.”

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been defending the decision to order technology firm Apple to pay 13 billion euros in back tax to the Irish government.
She told a European Parliament debate in Strasbourg on Wednesday that the goal is for all companies to pay tax where they generate profits and for all information on that to be made public.
Vestager is also keen for the specifics of the Irish ruling to be known: “Once agreed by Ireland, we will publish our decision for all to see and I hope that this can happen as fast as possible. The published information may also be relevant to tax authorities in other jurisdictions.”
She added: “If the US tax authorities consider that Apple should have paid a higher contribution for research and development to its US parent it could lead to a higher taxable amount in the US.”
Dublin has called the ruling an attack on its business-friendly low-tax regime and is to appeal against it, as is Apple.
Vestager denied that saying the action applied only to two tax rulings which gave Apple a selective advantage.
“The party is over”
Most MEPs in the debate supported the ruling.
Spanish EPP MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain said: “We must say loud and clear that the party is over. Although multinationals create jobs they must pay taxes and we need a consolidated tax basis.”

miércoles, 14 de septiembre de 2016

Emissions scandal: “Member states not keen on strict implementation”

Parliament’s inquiry committee investigating the car emissions testing scandal is now halfway through its mandate, but already it has a clearer view of how car manufacturers were able to claim that their cars polluted many times less than they actually did. MEPs vote on their interim report in plenary on Tuesday 13 September. Watch the video for an interview with report authors Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy and Pablo Zalba Bidegain.
Gerbrandy, a Dutch member of the ALDE group, said: “What we see is a picture of European Commission that seems to be either incapable or unwilling to take action against the growing gap between on-road emissions and those during the test cycle. Secondly we see that the member states were not very keen on very strict implementation and enforcement of car emission legislation.”
Zalba Bidegain, a Spanish member of the EPP, said: “Evidently, nobody knew or even suspected anything until Volkswagen admitted in the US that it was using these kind of devices. On the other hand, everyone was aware that there were discrepancies. I believe this crisis will be an opportunity to improve emissions testing.”
This week there will also be two hearings with EU commissioners and representatives from Bosch, a leading automotive supplier that among others supplies engine control units for diesel engines. The commissioners  attending  the hearings this week are Elżbieta Bieńkowska,responsible for industry and the internal market, and Karmenu Vella, who is responsible for the environment.
So far the Parliament’s inquiry committee into emissions measurements in the car industry has questioned experts as well as representatives from environmental organisations and the car industry. It has also had hearings with  current and former commissioners regarding existing and proposed testing procedures. Committee members asked them  what they knew about the so-called defeat devices that prevent the emissions control system from working properly.


martes, 30 de agosto de 2016

EZB kommt Deutschland zu Hilfe und kauft VW-Anleihen  

Der EUObserver berichtet, dass die EZB bei ihrer jüngsten Shopping-Tour Unternehmensanleihen von Volkswagen gekauft hat. Die Anleihen haben Laufzeiten bis 2017 und bis 2021 und wurden von der Bundesbank durchgeführt. Ein EZB-Sprecher bestätigte den Kauf, lehnte aber Aussagen zu Details ab. Die EZB hatte angeblich 2015 nach dem Bekanntwerden des Abgas-Skandals den Kauf von VW-Anleihen ausgeschlossen. Der EUObserver schreibt, es habe den Anschein, die EZB würde bei ihren Ankäufen ausschließlich nach der Kreditwürdigkeit urteilen.

Andere europäische Institutionen halten das anders: Die Europäische Investment-Bank EIB und die Europäische Entwicklungsbank EBRD haben ihre Kredite für Volkswagen auf Eis gelegt.

Der linke EU-Parlamentarier Fabio De Masi spricht von einem „Bail-Out“ für Volkswagen. Sie seien riskant, weil es zu Interessenskonflikten kommen könne. Der Kauf von Unternehmensanleihen sei generell „kritisch“ – nicht nur im Fall von VW. Die EZB will mit dem Anleihenkauf den Markt für Asste Backed Securities (ABS) wiederbeleben. Die Verpackungsform von Finanzprodukten hatten bei der US-Immobilienkrise zum Crash geführt.

Der konservative spanische EU-Parlamentarier Pablo Zalba hält die Käufe dagegen für Sache der EZB und verwies darauf, dass „die Unabhängigkeit der EZB immer respektiert werden muss“.

Ob hinter dem Kauf ein Deal mit Deutschland steht, ist unklar: Deutschland könnte, wenn die EZB Entlastung für VW schafft, geneigt sein, einer Banken-Rettung in Italien, Spanien und Portugal durch Steuergelder zuzustimmen. Aktuelle drängt die EZB zum Ankauf von faulen Krediten (NPL) durch die Steuerzahler – eine Aktion, die unabhängige Finanzexperten für den völlig falschen Weg der Bankenrettung halten.