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Greens’ letter to Commissioner Moscovici calling for the prohibition of patent boxes

Dear Commissioner Moscovici,

On behalf of the Greens / EFA group, we would like to draw your attention on patent boxes, an important mechanism identified by the Commission itself as a risk to facilitate aggressive tax planning in Europe.

Patent or innovation boxes are a type of preferential tax regime, specific to the European Union and multiplying among Member States. Currently, 12 countries grant or are preparing to grant patent boxes or equivalent schemes(1), which could facilitate tax avoidance rather than genuinely encouraging the promotion of R&D in these countries. As you know, the allocation of intellectual property rights is key for tax matters but unfortunately is not always linked to where real economic activity takes place.

In 2014 the Code of Conduct for Business Taxation Group found all existing patent boxes harmful and agreed that, in order to address this problem, these preferential regimes should be based on the OECD “modified nexus approach”. This means that there must be a direct link between the tax benefits and the underlying research and development activities.

In its June 2015 Action Plan on Corporate Taxation, the Commission committed to carefully monitor how Member States implement the modified nexus approach and whether their patent box regimes are in line with the new approach. The Commission also took the commitment that if, within 12 months, Member States are not applying this new approach consistently, it will prepare binding legislative measures on this issue(2).

As the deadline of June 2016 is now ending, we would like to ask you, as Commissioner for taxation, to provide us with the outcome of your monitoring. It has been brought to our attention that several countries are delayed in the implementation of the modified nexus approach. Furthermore, despite a general commitment in 2014 to do so, France now claims that it will not rollback its patent box scheme as mentioned in the latest ECOFIN conclusions(3).

As recently reconfirmed by the report of the TAX2 Special Committee(4), investigating the Luxleaks scandal, we urge you to come forward with a binding legislative proposal on patent and innovation boxes. As Greens, we believe that patent boxes should be gradually phased out and prohibited in the next five years. Your services, as well as the OECD or the IMF, seem to confirm that patent boxes are not the right tool to foster R&D in Europe(5). We call on you to propose this new legislative proposal under Article 116 of the Treaty as Member States have been consulted since 2013 on the matter but such consultation did not result in an agreement fully eliminating the distortion of competition created by patent box schemes.

1 The following countries are: Belgium, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. 2http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/taxation/company_tax/fairer_corporate_taxation/com_ 2015_302_en.pdf

3 Report of the Code of Conduct Group to ECOFIN, 13 June 2016, 9912/16 FISC 97 ECOFIN 558
4 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20160621IPR33011/MEPs-call-for-tax-haven-black-list-patent- box-rules-CCCTB-and-more
5 https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/system/files/ged/28-taxud-study_on_rnd_tax_incentives_-_2014.pdf

Brussels, 30 June 2016

The fight against corporate tax avoidance has increased considerably in the EU over the past years and we congratulate the Commission for the leadership it has taken on this matter. Taking a bold move on patent boxes would send a strong signal to Member States that the Commission remains committed to close harmful tax regimes in Europe to ensure a fairer corporate tax system.

Yours sincerely,

Max Andersson, Sweden Margrete Auken, Denmark Pascal Durand, France
Bas Eickhout, the Netherlands, Sven Giegold, Germany

Heidi Hautala, Finland
Maria Heubuch, Germany Yannick Jadot, France
Benedek Javor, Hungary
Eva Joly, France
Philippe Lamberts, Belgium Ernest Maragall, Spain
Michel Reimon, Austria
Michèle Rivasi, France
Molly Scott Cato, United Kingdom Bart Staes, Belgium
Joseph-Maria Terricabras, Spain Ernest Urtasun, Spain

Press release: Luxembourg Leaks trial – Regrettable verdict a wake-up call on whistleblower protection

A Luxembourg court today ruled that ‘Luxembourg Leaks’ whistleblowers Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet were guilty of stealing documents, revealing business secrets and violating trade secrets (1). Criticising the verdict, Green transparency spokesperson Benedek Javor MEP, who was in Luxembourg for the verdict today, said:

“This deeply regrettable verdict should be a clear wake-up call on the need to finally recognise and protect the crucial role performed by whistleblowers in democratic systems by shedding light on vital information in the public interest. The vital information revealed by the ‘Luxembourg Leaks’ whistleblowers threw the spotlight on the tax avoidance practices of multinational corporations, leading to investigations in the EU Parliament and elsewhere, as well as legislative proposals to close the loopholes that made this tax avoidance possible. There can be absolutely no doubt that Antoine Deltour, Raphaël Halet and Edouard Perrin were serving the public interest. To punish them for their actions is the opposite of what a rational legal system in a democracy should be doing. We will support them ni their appeal.

“This trial has driven home the precarious situation of whistleblowers even in modern democratic states. The only way to ultimately resolve this is by providing clear legal protection for whistleblowers. The European Parliament has called on the EU Commission to propose EU legislation to this end on a number of occasions and there is a clear legal basis for such a framework under the EU Treaties. Only last month, our group outlined a prototype for how such an EU law should look (2) and we are now again urging the Commission to act on this and bring forward a proposal.”

(1) The Luxembourg court delivered a guilty verdict to Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet. Antoine Deltour was sentenced to 12 months in prison with a €1500 fine and Raphaël Halet was sentenced to 9 months with a €1000 fine. In addition to the fine, they have clearly faced an arduous 2-year ordeal and the loss of their jobs. Journalist Edouard Perrin, who was also on trial, was acquitted.

(2) The Greens/EFA proposals for an EU whistleblower directive can be found at: http://www.greens-efa.eu/whistle-blowers-directive-15498.html


Below is a video from the Greens’ Twitter account, in which Mr. Jávor explains the situation:


EU energy rules – Parliament calls for greater ambition ahead of upcoming review

EU energy rules

Parliament calls for greater ambition ahead of upcoming review

PRESS RELEASE – Brussels, 23 June 2016

The European Parliament today adopted two reports setting out its assessment of how the EU’s laws on energy efficiency and renewable energy are being implemented. The Greens welcomed the votes, which called for more ambition, ahead of reviews of the legislation expected to be presented by the European Commission before the end of this year. Commenting after the votes, Green energy spokesperson Benedek Javor said:

“The European Parliament has today set down a marker ahead of the forthcoming reviews of the EU legislation on energy efficiency and renewable energy. If the EU is to take its responsibility in delivering on the Paris UN climate deal, it will have to increase the ambition of its energy and climate goals. This would also bring clear economic benefits and create sustainable jobs in Europe. The EP has today sent out a strong call to increase the ambition of the EU’s energy targets and to ensure proper binding rules for meeting these targets.

“Crucially, MEPs have highlighted that the frontline in delivering on the EU’s energy and climate goals must be energy efficiency and saving. They have called for the EU’s 2030 energy efficiency target to finally be made binding and to be increased to 40% (up from the 27% suggested by Council). This is essential for delivering European energy security, reducing our energy imports as well as tackling the problem of energy poverty.

“Parliament has also called for a strengthening of the 2030 EU renewable energy target to 30% (up from the 27% suggested by Council) and for this to be delivered through binding national binding targets. This is the model that proved successful in the expansion of renewables to date.  The current overall ‘headline target’ for 2030 is little more than an aspirational goal, with no binding provisions on individual EU member states. This is a major step back for the promotion of renewables, which undermines the economic and employment creation potential of the sector, and which must be addressed. MEPs also called for the creation of clear rights for those who generate and consumer their own renewable energy, whilst strengthening the role of local and regional authorities in the energy transition, which is crucial to its success.

“Commission must now take these votes on board and ensure its proposals for reviewing the current legislation reflect the call for greater ambition.”

(1) The Greens last year outlined their proposals on what Europe’s energy union should look like. The paper and a short overview can be found at: http://www.greens-efa.eu/a-green-energy-union-13369.html


(Image source: greens-efa.eu)

Why we need to fight discrimination together? – Turning words into action to address anti-Semitism, intolerance and discrimination

Allow me to start my speech with recalling the words of the German Pastor Martin Niemöller who was opposing the Nazis’ Aryan Paragraph and the Nazis’ state control of the churches for which he was taken into Dachau concentration camp. He survived the war and became a vocal pacifist and anti-war activist and campaigner of the nuclear disarmament.

He said the following:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”


Although, there is no war in Europe at the moment, and hopefully we will never see those days coming back, there are signs of reminiscence of that era. Yet, solidarity, mutual understanding and compassion is diminishing. Fear, anger and hatred is spreading instead.

We must all stand up against it until we can. Furthermore, since the second world was Europe and particularly the EU has been a guarantee of human rights and a forerunner on anti-discrimination and equal treatment, regardless of race, religion of sexual orientation. Even in its weakened position the European Social Model, the welfare system of the member states has been able to move forward the cause of equal access to all services, while much work still remains to be done.

More specifically, the integration and help of vulnerable groups from various backgrounds however has been taking a particularly worrying trend recently. We are amongst the wealthiest nations on Earth and we are capable of helping them financially, socially and emotionally. However, there are countries which are simply not willing to participate, to share solidarity either on European level or on national level.


For example my own country Hungary is not willing to follow the European model of integrating asylum seekers. The number of voluntarily integrated asylum seekers is zero. There is a nationwide campaign against the so called “forced colonization” of migrants organized by Brussels. The campaign and the referendum on the subject altogether cost much more for the taxpayers and the country than the integration of the approximately 1300 refugees Hungary supposed to accept.

It is clear that the government would be able to finance the refugees, but they rather play the Anti-Brussels and the Anti-refugee cards.

In the meanwhile the Government breaks the internal social contract as well. They silently but strongly incite hatred against those Hungarians who have been living in Hungary for at least 600 years: the Roma. The government is two faced in its relations with the Jewish communities as well. On one hand they acknowledge the loss of the Hungarian Jews on the other they deny the role of the governments and the citizens played in their discrimination and their ghettoization and extermination.

In order to stop the spreading of such thinking we should fight all kinds of discrimination together.

We must not allow people to believe that simplified answers exist for the problems of today’s society and the future of Europe cannot be the culture of isolation. Isolation from refugees, from Roma, from non-Christians and from those who migrate from one EU country to another in searching for a better life or decent work. Europe has been the melting pot of different cultures and different habits since the very beginning of its history. Diversity is the driving force that makes Europe not only survive struggles but also serves as the engine of development.

Solidarity between people facing different forms of exclusion is essential: Roma and asylum seekers, members of different religions, workers and unemployed people must act together. Any type of discrimination aims nothing else but to find those tiny disparities between these groups that can create misunderstanding, jealousy and even hate. What really threatens European culture is not Roma, refugees, LBTQIA people or different religions, but exactly this kind of thinking.

To have the Europe we want we all need to work together in order to secure peace and prosperity. I wish you a fruitful discussion during the event.

Risks and Responsibilities in EU Nuclear Projects Case study: Paks II

Dowload  Risk and respons in EU nuclear projects_flyer

Watch the video of the event


8:15- Welcome coffee served inside the room

8:30- 8:40 Opening

Victor Bostinaru, Vice-President of the S&D Group for Foreign Affairs

8:40-9:00 Introduction and state of play

Benedek Javor, MEP

Contribution from MEPs Jo Leienen and Dan Nica

9:10-9:40 Financing

*Financial viavility of nuclear, recent changes

Stephen Thomas, Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy, Business School University of Greenwich

*Financing of Paks II and financing concerns with Fennovoima

András Perger, Greenpeace

*Moderator: Victor Bostinaru, Vice-President of the S&D Group for Foreign Affairs

9:50-10:30 Impact on the environments and safety concerns

* Nuclear safety and waste management

Marin Constantin, senior researcher ICN Pitesti, chief editor, Journal of Nuclear Research and Development

*Russian nuclear boomerag to Europe,  Safety concerns, Leningradskaja 2

Oleg Bodrov, physicist, ecologist, expert of the International NGO Decommission Network

*Risks of incidents, analysis based on the EIA of Paks II

Oda Becker, a physicist and independent expert on nuclear plants

Moderator: Heidi Hautala, Vice-Chair of the Greens/EFA

10:30-10:50 Exchange of Views with the European Commission

10:50-11:00 Q&A, Concluding remarks

MEPs Victor Bostinaru, Benedek Jávor


(click on links to see the presentations of the speakers)


MEP Benedek Jávor’s message on strengthening Roma participation in politics

Mr. Benedek Jávor’s message on the political participation of Romas was given on the occasion of the European Roma Information Office’s conference titled “Strengthening Roma Political Participation”. The conference was held 10th of June, 2016; Mr. Jávor’s video message can be watched below.


(Image source: erionet.eu)

Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant – Security Challenge for Entire Europe

European Parliament’s agenda for June 6 was focused on the question of safety and security of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant. This construction implemented by Russian energy concern “Rosatom” in Ostrovec, Belarus, less than 20 kilometres from the European Union external border, is followed by multiple accusations for failing to conform with international environmental standards, such as set by United Nations Aarhus and Espoo Conventions, as well as to provide response on inquiries submitted by its nearest neighbour Lithuania on the safety and security of the project.

‘The issue is of utmost importance for people all over Lithuania and entire Europe, as the Ostrovec project is rapidly being implemented and the threats it pose are becoming more and more tangible. With this European Parliament’s plenary debate we ask for the issue of unsafe Belarusian NPP to finally appear on the Commission’s agenda. We urge the Commission to finally wake up from ignorance of threat, appearing at the very border of the EU and use all levers available to start impacting Belarus, a non-democratic country, to stop breaching international conventions and international nuclear security practices in building Ostrovec NPP. We need a strong message, political will and dedicated efforts of the Commission in order not to sacrifice the health and security of European citizens in exchange for unclear political gains’, – notes Bronis Ropė, Lithuanian member of the Greens / European Alliance Group at the European Parliament.

Despite multiple violations of international conventions and protests of neighbouring countries and civil society, Belarusian authorities take all opportunities to declare that Ostrovec NPP will be the cheapest and fastest built nuclear power plant. The commissioning of first reactor is expected in 2018, with the second following in 2020.

‘The plan to build two new reactors in Belarus, close to the Lithuanian border poses a great risk to citizens of the EU, but also to the citizens of Belarus that still suffer from the aftermath of the Chernobyl catastrophe 30 years ago. The plans of Belarusian government to build these reactors under immense time pressure and at extremely low costs raises additional concerns. International conventions to include neighbouring states are not respected and there are serious doubts regarding the safety of the project. The EU-Commission has to use all possible avenues to make sure that international conventions will be respected and that Belarus will take part in the EU-stress tests and will accomplish IAEA SEED mission for the site in its full scope in order to ensure that international nuclear safety standards are applied’ – underlines Rebecca Harms, co-president of the Greens / EFA at the European Parliament.

It is noteworthy the so far ambiguous role of the European Commission. EU climate action and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete is known for assuring the conformity of Belarusian NPP to international stress test requirements in his reply to MEP Ropė’s request in December 2015. However in April 2016 the Commission, answering to another similar question, posed by three green MEP’s – Rebecca Harms, Bronis Ropė and Claude Turmes, has indicated that such stress tests are not conducted yet only planned, meanwhile announcing its reluctance apply pressure to Belarus on this issue.

Monday’s plenary debate shall encourage the Commission to take into more serious account the threats posed by the Ostrovec NPP to the health and security of the citizens of the European Union. Close involvement of the EU institutions rather than efforts of single Member State is expected to have tangible results on halting the construction of Belarusian NPP until its safety and security will be ensured in line with the international conventions and corresponding standards.

Japan’s decision to resume whaling in the 2015-2016 season

On 31st March 2014 the UN’s International Court of Justice – in its legally binding decision – ruled that Japan’s state-subsidized whale-hunting in the Southern Ocean did not fall within the scope of scientific research and therefore was considered illegal. In spite of the ruling, Japan has recently resumed whaling, exploiting a loophole that allows for a limited amount of hunting for scientific purposes.

Even though there has been a moratorium on commercial whaling since 1982, there is still supply of whale meat in Japan due to imports and the sale of the meat that was hunted on scientific missions. However, the hunting of whales could not be justified by the alleged strong cultural attachment to whale meat, either – which was popular in the post-war period since it was a cheap source of protein-, as, according to research conducted by Greenpeace, whale meat consumption in Japan amounted to about 30 grams per person on average in 2015 (whereas the stockpile of unsold frozen whale meat totalled up to 5900 tons in 2011).

Following the suggestion of Greenpeace, activism from within Japan should be combined with international pressure. Therefore, I urge the European Instutitions and the Member States to  take action and firmly step up against this out-dated and illegal practice.