Three Eurosceptic parties--France’s National Front, Italy’s Five Star Movement and the UK Independence Party--representing about 10% of MEPs called for resignation of Juncker and the 27 other European commissioners.
The Eurosceptic parties said Juncker’s credibility had been damaged by the so-called “LuxLeaks” revelations, which came to light five days after Juncker took the helm of the commission.
“Speaking for the motion, National Front leader Marine Le Pen said Juncker’s defense of Luxembourg’s past policies and promise to work now to curb tax avoidance was ‘as credible as putting Al Capone in charge of an ethics committee’,” reported Reuters.
“There is such a thing as the Juncker problem,” the Financial Times quoted Ryszard Legutko--a Polish MEP who is part of the same political bloc as the British prime minister David Cameron--as saying. “Pardon the expression, but I didn’t have the feeling that you had any pangs of conscious at all.”
Juncker: “I’m not a friend of big capital”
According to the FT, Juncker later said during the debate that opponents “must realise that I’m not a friend of big capital,” and to the charge that he cannot be trusted to close tax loopholes: “I think there was much laughter in the higher echelons of the multinational companies when that allegation was made.”
Juncker--part of the parliament’s largest political grouping the EPP--also protested against the measure opposing the full commission college. “Let’s leave the other commissioners out of it … If you want me to go, say it and I will go”, EUobserver quoted him as saying. He added that MEPs should “stop insulting me” and let him “get on with my job”.
Guy Verhofstadt, head of the third largest bloc, the Liberals, said the only interesting revelation was that UKIP head Nigel “Farage and Le Pen are now finally outing their hidden relationship” said the DPA.
The motion is unlikely to pass when it comes up for vote, scheduled for Thursday, as the second largest bloc, the Socialists, also support Juncker.
A double majority--“two-thirds of votes cast and a majority of all MEPs (i.e. 376)”--will be required for its passage, the parliament’s press service said.
The debate followed the 5 November publication of the LuxLeaks papers by more than 30 international media organisations, which revealed favourable tax treatment possibly worth billions of euro by Luxembourg’s tax service of 340 multinational corporations that were clients of PwC.
The advisory firm has said the papers were outdated and stolen. Juncker was Luxembourg’s prime minister during the time the tax agreements were reached.
Seperately, the Grand Duchy’s current prime minister, Xavier Bettel (who is politically aligned with Verhofstadt in the European Parliament), attended the official opening of PwC’s new “Crystal Park” headquarters in Gasperich on Monday evening, The Guardian said.
“Journalists were initially invited to the ceremony, where Crown Prince Guillaume had been due to be guest of honour, but PwC said the event was now a private occasion,” and the crown prince cancelled his appearance, the British paper reported.
On Friday, a spokesman for PwC told Delano that its photographer would not have free reign to photograph guests at the ceremony. Delano then declined to attend.
Luxembourg’s prime minister, Pierre Gramegna, also attended the event, reported Delano’s sister publication, Paperjam (in French).