European Union lawmakers released a report on Wednesday (Feb. 27) recommending that the EU create a police unit dedicated to the investigation of tax and financial crimes, as well as a watchdog organization to fight money-laundering, according to a report by Reuters.
The report, which is the result of a year’s investigation by a European Union Parliament committee, also said that seven countries in the union were tax havens. The report is a response to some high-profile money laundering cases and alleged finance-related crimes in the region.
The commission is led by Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg.
The report found that EU countries have been dragging their feet when it comes to closing opportunities for the circumventing of tax rules, and that many of them demonstrated a “lack of political will to tackle tax avoidance and financial crime.”
Some tax reforms have been approved in the past year, but new ones have also been revealed, including a “cum/ex” tax scandal, which cost European treasuries €55 billion.
The report said reform is hard to enable because some of the 28 countries in the EU “display traits of a tax haven and facilitate aggressive tax planning.” It cited Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands and others as examples.
“Europe has a serious money-laundering and tax fraud problem,” said Danish lawmaker Jeppe Kofod, who helped draft the report.
The report will be put to a vote in the near future, and was backed by the main European Parliament parties. The report said that the European Commission should start working right away on a European police force with the power to investigate financial crimes.
It also asked for a watchdog that would fight money laundering, following scandals at European banks. States have so far been against creating such an organization, even after calls for such an initiative by the European Central Bank.
The only reform agreed upon was a minor one that would allow the European Banking Authority to increase the number of officials working on money laundering to 12 people.