MEPs today voted on revised EU rules to combat money-laundering and tax evasion, including an EU-wide public register of the beneficiaries of companies.
Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson, who is the lead negotiator from the Liberal group on the legislation, commented:
“For the first time we are asking companies to publicly reveal who stands behind them. This will give the authorities the tools to identify anonymous shell companies and opaque offshore trusts, making it far harder for fraudsters to evade tax and criminals to whitewash their dirty money.”
“Liberal Democrats are the party of In because being in the EU means Britain can work with its neighbours to solve global challenges like tax evasion and organised crime.”
“Pulling out of Europe would weaken our ability to combat money-laundering and recover the billions of pounds of tax revenue being lost each year.”
Commenting on the rejection by MEPs of an amendment that would have excluded small low-risk family trusts from the public register, Sir Graham added:
“It is important to make a distinction between high-risk trusts located offshore and low-risk family trusts in the UK, which if published on a public register could have serious privacy implications.”
“I am disappointed that my Labour and Green colleagues have failed to recognise this and hope that this issue can be resolved in subsequent negotiations between EU governments in the Council.”
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday evening approved EU targets to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags, despite vocal opposition from Conservative MEPs.
An estimated 100 billion carrier bags are used per year in the EU, an average of around 200 per person. 8 billion of these end up as litter, many of them in Europe’s seas.
The EU proposal will set a target of reducing plastic bag use by 50% within three years and 80% by 2020.
Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesperson Chris Davies commented:
“It is clear that we need an EU-wide approach to prevent the enormous damage being done by plastic bag waste to Europe’s seas and beaches. Plastic bags not only blight our landscape, they pose a serious threat to marine wildlife.”
“Three-quarters of seabirds and one third of fish in the English Channel have been found to be contaminated by plastic waste, much of it from plastic bags.”
“By voting against these proposals, the Tories are sending out a clear signal that they don’t care about preserving our marine environment for future generations.”
Mr Davies added:
“Today’s vote sets an ambitious target while giving each each EU country the flexibility to decide how best to meet it.”
“Liberal Democrats have already led the way on this issue in Government with the introduction of a 5p charge for single use carrier bags from Autumn next year. We now want to see similar action taken across Europe.”