Today, the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament has published a study showing that the French transnational company Veolia has minimised its taxes to the tune of more than half a billion euros over the last five years.
The report, written by the independent auditor and consultant Jean Michel Matt, shows how the company consolidated losses from various French subsidiaries under one fiscal unit to reduce its tax liabilities.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group comments:
“Veolia’s growth is based on aggressive tax practices. Losses incurred in the takeover of competitors can only become economically viable if offset against profits that were ultimately paid by consumers. It is high time for the European Union to take effective action against such aggressive practices.
The Veolia case demonstrates what an important role the shifting of losses plays in the growth of corporations. The emergence of economic power is also based on tax advantages in the offsetting of losses, which smaller or cooperative providers cannot use. Cecilia also used double taxation agreements between France and the US in order to ensure the double non-taxation of profits. It is unacceptable that a company should be able to reduce its tax liability by more than half a billion euros by shifting profits and losses without even violating a single law.
This is not just a question of justice. The public coffers are missing out on funds that are urgently needed for public services and future investments. Veolia should rethink its business ethics. All companies should consider it a priority of their corporate responsibility to return a fair share of their profits to society in the form of taxes. This is particularly true for regional monopolies in the water, waste management and the energy sector.
What we really need, however, is political action at EU level. Veolia, a company with 2,700 subsidiaries worldwide, is the perfect example of why we need better transparency rules. Only this way can we shed more light on the opaque world of questionable tax practices. Public and country-specific reporting and the exchange of key information between Member States would be effective means to achieve this. Proposals regarding these measures have been on the table for a long time, but are currently blocked in the European Council. The German government must finally stop blocking tax transparency”.
The new study can be found here: