Tax committee takes shape
The European Parliament’s special committee on tax evasion, set up in the wake of the ‘Lux Leaks’ scandal, has begun to mark out its line of inquiry. At a meeting on Monday (9 March), the committee discussed the path to follow between now and August, when its mandate ends, but no firm decisions were taken. The co-ordinators of the political groups have, however, agreed on a timeframe and said that there will be 11 meetings. As part of their investigation, committee members will visit member states in an effort to understand their tax systems. (It was suggested that, to save time, representatives of national parliaments should visit the Parliament instead.) The committee discussed setting up a website to which any member of the public who has information on tax rulings could contribute.
King asks EU to fight Islamophobia
King Abdullah II of Jordan is no stranger to the European Parliament. On Tuesday, he paid his fourth visit to the Parliament since he came to the throne in 1999. He called on the EU to continue its fight against Islamophobia, saying that “Europe is an important partner in helping to stop the global rise of Islamophobia”. The king added that the “future lies in unity and
respect” and that “attacking others is no way forward”. King Abdullah also touched on the issue of migration. The conflict in Syria has resulted in neighbouring Jordan having the third largest number of refugees in the world. While thanking Europe for its support, he said Jordan’s burden was “like France hosting the whole population of Belgium”.
Slow progress on gender equality
MEPs on Monday held a debate on gender equality. They voted on a resolution put forward by the women’s rights and gender equality committee, which says that despite progress on some issues, pay gaps need to be reduced, glass ceilings still exist in the business world, and there is inequality in parental leave. It was backed by 441 MEPs, with 205 voting against and 52 abstentions. Marc Tarabella, a centre-left Belgian MEP, said that “change is too slow and women’s rights are suffering the
effects of this”. The resolution calls on the member states to unblock draft legislation to get more women on company boards,
and to promote educational policies that will encourage women to take up careers in science and ICT. MEPs urged the European Commission, represented by Ve˘ra Jourová, the European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, to offer EU member states more financial support to set up affordable childcare systems.
Dutch MEP’s mistaken allegiance
Anne-Marie Mineur, a far-left Dutch MEP who joined the Parliament after the May 2014 elections, is a candidate in provincial elections in the Netherlands being held next week (18 March). She said she does not intend to leave Brussels even if elected in Utrecht. However, thanks to a printing mistake she is listed as being a candidate for the Reformed Political Party (SGP), a conservative, Christian party that refuses on religious grounds to field any female candidates. Mineur said she found the mistake amusing, but worried that her candidacy might go unnoticed because the SGP attracts so few voters. The printers in Utrecht are said to be printing new lists, which they hope will be ready in time.