22 Jan 2014
PTC Opener John on Fighting to keep Europe safe from criminal money launderers, tax dodgers and terrorist financing is and will remain a tall order for EU policymakers.
A conference here organised by the EPP Group addressed this issue head-on, hoping to shine a bright light on the EU's shadow economies which are costing honest EU citizens dearly.
Footage John off The scale of tax fraud and evasion is staggering, with up to an estimated 1 trillion Euros annually lost to EU member state treasuries.
John off The theme is so large that the G8's most recent meeting embraced it as a main topic.
Head of the Greek EPP delegation and organised crime expert Marietta Giannakou says tax fraud and avoidance sucks billions out of the public coffers.
Marietta Giannakou, MEP Marietta Giannakou on The way that capital moves in Europe which is something positive, the internal market-- but it creates many possibilities for the people who want to violate the law.
Footage John off Although money laundering is seen in many ways the more overtly dangerous form of financial crime, it is mundane VAT tax fraud which is causing some of the worst damage to EU budgets.
Yannic Hulot, Director of the Belgian Special Tax Inspectorate says VAT fraud alone costs the EU some 40 billion Euros a year in unreported revenue, which is then moved out of country.
The technical tools are in place, he says, but political unanimity is lagging behind.
Yannic Hulot, Director, Special Tax Inspectorate, Belgium Yannic Hulot, Director, Special Tax Inspectorate, Belgium
on We need political decisions because in tax matters as you know we need unanimity. And that we are working now to convince all the Member States that we cannot go on in this direction; that we have to take drastic measures to avoid those losses.
John off Hulot said new software and analytics are helping shorten detection times and pointing out high risk activities to wavering EU member state governments.
Greece, which is cracking down hard in a number of high-profile cases, is helping to set an example in setting things right on curtailing tax avoidance and sending a strong message in the process.
Harry Theoharis, Secretary General for Public Revenue in the Greek Ministry of Finance says his investigations clearly reveal that the real pain threshold for honest people has been now crossed.
Harry Theoharis Harry Theoharis, Secretary General for Public Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Greece
on The period where this has been acceptable is over and because we are actually now facing critical questions. We have a lot of people living under poverty, a lot of people barely making ends meet and there is no way we can accept behaviour like that.
Footage John off Meanwhile Madame Giannakou said the Greek response to date sends a strong message to financial criminals everywhere in the EU.
Interview MEP Marietta Giannakou MEP Marietta Giannakou on We have to fight them. Otherwise if we leave the situation as it is this will be dangerous for the whole economic and financial system in Europe.
PTC Close John on
The fight against financial crime in the EU is often described as a war like that on drugs or terrorism.
Finding the right balance between fundamental privacy rights and the need to finance the public programmes through tax revenue is precisely what conferences like this are all about.
Find out more about the activities of the largest political force in Parliament by going to eppgroup.eu. Thanks for looking in and see you again soon.
Fighting financial crime is a top priority for the EU
Speaking at a conference on financial crime, the EPP Group's Marietta Giannakou and other participants said the fight to protect decent citizens against financial crime must remain a top priority in the rest of the EU. Good results can already be seen in Greece.
Tags Financial crime, Marietta Giannakou, tax, EPP Group, European Parliament
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