Sunday

24th Mar 2019

Eurosceptics seek to topple Juncker over LuxLeaks

A vote will be held in the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week after eurosceptic MEPs tabled a motion to sack Jean-Claude Juncker over the Luxembourg Leaks affair.

The motion was predominantly backed by Ukip and deputies from Italy's Five Star Movement but far-right National Front MEPs also signed up, with a minimum of 76 signatures needed for it to be valid.

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The no-confidence vote is unlikely to succeed as Juncker has the backing of the two largest groups - the European People's Party and the Social Democrats - who hold a majority of seats.

Luxembourg Leaks, a series of stories published by a gorup of newspapers earlier this month, revealed how Luxembourg authorities allowed big corporations like Ikea, Pepsi and Deutsche Bank, to pay as little as 0.25 percent tax on their profits. Juncker was prime minister of Luxembourg at the time.

After an initial silence, he then said he "regrets" any decisions that may have led to tax avoidance, but maintained that everything was legal and that he is committed to fight tax evasion as commission chief.

“The LuxLeaks scandal shows that Commission President Juncker in his political life has always acted to enrich his country behind its European partners, in defiance of the Union and the Community spirit he hopes to represent," Five Star Movement MEP Marco Zanni said in a press statement.

"Ukip promised to hold the Commission to account and this censure motion shows that we mean business," Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe added.

But the motion is unlikely to gain traction, as other groups are reluctant to "weaken the commission", as EPP leader Manfred Weber tweeted. "The EPP will not let this happen," he wrote.

British Liberal MEP Catherine Bearder also suggested her group will not support the motion, although Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt has called for an independent investigation into Juncker's role in the Luxembourg tax affair.

"Instead of this opportunist grandstanding, the EU needs a proper independent investigation into the allegations against Juncker and his possible involvement in tax evasion," Bearder said.

She also criticised Ukip for breaking its promise of not teaming up with the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, which it did to get enough signatures for the censure vote.

The vote is likely to be held on Tuesday (25 November) in Strasbourg.

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