In occasion of the meeting in Riga between the Conference of Presidents and the Latvian government, who will hold the next Presidency of the EU, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, asked the Latvian presidency for a strong engagement on tax havens, also underling the importance for Europe to focus on growth and economic recovery:

"The core of the upcoming Latvian Presidency of the EU will be growth; a goal that we share and fully support. However, as already underlined by German, French and Italian economy ministers, part of the economic recovery is the fight against tax havens and tax avoidances. Socialists and Democrats want the upcoming Latvian Presidency to strongly commit on this.

"Therefore, we asked for an enquiry report and a legislative report on the topic to be issued by the economic affairs committee. An inquiry committee, under EP rules, would only have been able to look at past law-breaking or maladministration. We look to the future and say: Never, never again LuxLeaks, in any member state. The unacceptable paradox is that nowadays most of the leaked cases on unfair tax practices and tax avoidance are not illegal.

"We want unfair tax competition between member states to be finally tackled by working for more European harmonisation. And with regard to this, we have already proposed some concrete measures to tackle such a sensitive issue:

• The European Commission and EU member states should adopt a clear and comprehensive definition and a common set of criteria to identify and blacklist tax havens
• The EU must ensure no EU funding is granted to any company involved in tax fraud
• Multinational companies must be obliged to pay taxes where they produce their profit

This battle is the battle of the European people.

"As far as growth is concerned, the European economy has been chocked for too long by blind austerity policies; therefore, we firmly support the investment plan presented by the EU Commission. Finally, after years of waiting, we have a plan that puts growth at the centre of its agenda. It represents a first step in the right direction, especially taking into consideration the possibility of not counting investments in the national deficit; a mechanism which we would like to see strengthened."

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