Parliament’s tax transparency compromise leaves back door for corporate secrecy

June 12th, 2017


Today, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to support a ramp up of efforts to clamp down on tax abuse by shedding light on the activities of multinational corporations around the globe. But a last minute compromise amendment raises questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the entire tax transparency plan.

MEPs voted to support an expanded tax transparency initiative by requiring multinational corporations (MNCs) to publish basic financial information on a country by country basis for all countries where they operate. This expands on last year’s proposal from the European Commission, which only required MNCs to publish information on their operations in EU member states, and a still to be determined list of tax havens. By requiring these filings for all countries of operation, journalists, researchers, and civil society would be able to see a much fuller picture of their activities.

Despite this positive step, an extremely worrying amendment was tabled by the ALDE group and supported by the EPP, which would allow MNCs to seek exemptions to reporting if they feel information regarding certain jurisdictions would be ‘commercially sensitive’.

Porter McConnell, Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition released the following statement:

“It seems MEPs listened to their constituents by supporting an expansion of the reporting requirement to all countries where a multinational operates,” said McConnell. “But the addition of an escape route amendment for any company that gets cold feet on transparency will undermine the very purpose of the proposal: ensuring corporations pay the right amount of tax, in the right place.”

“Luckily, we aren’t quite to the finish line; it is vital that MEPs who have worked tirelessly on issues of tax and transparency work to remove the ‘commercial sensitivity’ amendment when the proposal goes to a vote in Parliament’s plenary session,” she added. “If corporations can pick and choose when they want to be transparent, the real scope of their operations will likely continue to be obscured.”



Christian Freymeyer,, +1.410.490.6850

Notes to Editors:
  • The proposal approved today by a group of MEPs must go for final adoption in a full plenary of Parliament before trilogue negotiations can begin between Parliament, European Commission and Council.
  • Read a briefing on public CBCR in the EU here.
  • Watch a virtual breifing on CBCR here.
  • Read more about why public country by country reporting is important here

Written by Financial Transparency Coalition

Image used under Creative Commons license / Flickr User Thijs ter Haar

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