EU’s Juncker says Luxembourg ‘had no choice’ on tax
New European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday defended his country Luxembourg's controversial tax deals with global firms, saying it had no choice if it wanted to stay competitive.
Juncker survived a no confidence vote in the European Parliament on Thursday over revelations by the “Luxleaks” journalistic investigation this month showed the tax breaks passed when he was prime minister of the tiny duchy.
“We had to diversify our economy, we had no other choice,” Juncker said in an interview with several European newspapers including Belgium’s Le Soir.
Asked what he would do if confronted with the same situation, he replied that he would have “done the same thing.”
“But I would have paid more attention to these ‘tax rulings’, I would have changed the law so that the finance ministry was informed,” he said.
Juncker has previously said that the deals were done by Luxembourg tax authorities and had nothing to do with the government, in which he held the post of finance minister as well as premier.
Thousands of leaked files that showed Luxembourg allowed hundreds of top companies — including Apple, Pepsi, IKEA and Heinz — to enjoy tax breaks during Juncker’s 19 years in office.
Critics have said Juncker’s links to Luxembourg mean he cannot credibly lead EU efforts against tax avoidance and tax fraud.