By William K. Black
Kilkenny, Ireland: November 7, 2014
The news in Europe (I’m in Kilkenny, Ireland participating in Kilkenomics V) is filled with coverage of the latest travesty of the Troika – a leak disclosed the “let’s make a (secret) deal to virtually eliminate your corporate taxes” practices of Luxembourg under the reign of Jean-Claude Juncker. The leaks show that over 300 corporations have used such deals to produce what German leaders aptly describe as “non-taxation.” I described the resultant “magical fairyland” of tax havens that resulted in an earlier column. Juncker is the newly appointed head of the European Commission (EC). The EC is the most deranged member of that Troika – the home turf of those that insist on inflicting the most ruinous austerity and the war on workers’ wages. Juncker was chosen by the Germans to run the EC as a reward for his willingness to support these twin German diktats.
Sigmar Gabrieal, Germany’s economics minister and the leader of the Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s coalition party, has just decried Luxembourg’s aiding and abetting massive tax evasion by corporations, including Deutsche Bank. Gabriel characterizes it as taking an “axe” to “European solidarity.” Regular readers know that I’m going to invoke our family rule that holds that “it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody.” Germany has gleefully swung its metaphorical “axe” in order to dismember “European solidarity” for six years and Gabrieal leads the party of the (nominally) left that chose to join Merkel in coalition to help her swing that axe with gusto.
“German economics minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned that countries that permit large-scale corporate tax avoidance ‘take an axe to European solidarity’.
Leading German politicians expressed their displeasure today at the revelations of legal tax dodges in Luxembourg involving big German business names such as Deutsche Bank and energy utility, Eon.
Mr Gabriel, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), said the ‘phantom’ of tax avoidance must be exorcised ‘as soon as possible’.
He called on the new European Commission, headed by Luxembourg’s ex-premier Jean-Claude Juncker, to prioritise the fight against tax avoidance.
‘If international companies can play EU member states against each other, then the European project as a whole is called into question,’ said Mr Gabriel to the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily.
Yes, you read that correctly, Germany is calling on Juncker – the politician that German installed to run the EC despite the fact that he took “an axe to European solidarity” by creating a system of “non-taxation” – to “prioritise the fight against” Juncker’s policies. Juncker, of course, has declared his policies wonderful and pronounced that Luxembourg is not a tax haven. I must say, surrounded as I am by some of the world’s top professional comedians at Kilkenomics; that we all stand in awe of Gabriel, Juncker, and Schäuble’s mastery of the art of stand-up comedy. They really should quit their day jobs and become professional comedians. The people of Europe would thank them.