EU's Juncker survives no-confidence vote over tax deals

Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:04pm EST
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By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission's new president, Jean-Claude Juncker, comfortably survived a no-confidence vote on Thursday brought over news that Luxembourg had lured multinational businesses with super low tax rates during his period as prime minister.

The censure motion in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, was resoundingly defeated by 461 votes to 101.

However, the vote was hardly an auspicious start for Juncker, under fire in his first month in office both over his role when Luxembourg leader and over a potential conflict of interest as head of a Commission examining tax avoidance.

The censure motion, brought by far-right and anti-EU parties, said Juncker bore responsibility for Luxembourg's tax policies as its long-serving prime minister.

The motion said a person who had been responsible for aggressive tax avoidance policies should not head the executive EU Commission, which upholds the laws of the 28-nation bloc.

The Commission is now investigating several tax schemes offered by Luxembourg to global companies to see whether they broke European Union laws on state aid. Ireland and the Netherlands are also under investigation.

Juncker has said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will conduct the investigation and that he will not discuss the case with her to avoid being seen as trying to influence the outcome, which would harm his authority.

Juncker has billed his new Commission as "Europe's last chance" to show citizens the EU can act in their interests.   Continued...

European Commission President, Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker addresses the European Parliament to present a plan on growth, jobs and investment, in Strasbourg, November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler