Europe

Jean-Claude Juncker's European Commission faces censure vote

Jean-Claude Juncker Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Juncker attended the G20 summit in Brisbane earlier this week

A motion to sack Jean-Claude Juncker's European Commission will be put to a vote next week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The motion, backed by 76 MEPs, including the UK Independence Party and the National Front in France, is unlikely to succeed.

It alleges Mr Juncker is unfit to hold office because of what it calls aggressive tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg while he was PM there.

Mr Juncker denies the claims.

Britain's Liberal Democrats criticised UKIP for co-signing with the National Front and accused the party of "grandstanding".

If the motion, which also has the support of the Five Star movement in Italy, did succeed, the Commission would have to resign.

It argues that EU member states have lost billions of euros of potential tax revenues because of tax avoidance schemes implemented in Luxembourg during the 18 years Mr Juncker was prime minister there.

Debate urged

At least one in 10 members of the full parliament must back such a motion for a vote to be held.

Rules of procedure dictate that the vote has to be held next week.

The signatures on the motion included 44 from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group and 32 from non-attached members.

But it is unlikely to attract wide support from the other groupings.

UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe said: "This motion of censure means there must now be a debate on the behaviour of President Juncker and a vote to remove the entire European Commission.

"UKIP promised to hold the Commission to account and this censure motion shows that we mean business.

"We now hope members of other groups will get behind us to censure the Commission. This motion certainly means MEPs will have an opportunity to show their true colours and let their voters know where they stand on the actions of President Juncker."

'Opportunist grandstanding'

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder criticised UKIP leader Nigel Farage for joining the National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, in backing the motion.

"Nigel Farage promised UKIP would not 'get into bed' with Marine Le Pen," she said.

"Yet that's exactly what UKIP have done by co-signing this motion with her and the French National Front.

"Instead of this opportunist grandstanding, the EU needs a proper independent investigation into the allegations against Juncker and his possible involvement in tax evasion."

The UK government has had an acrimonious relationship with Mr Juncker since he emerged as the leading candidate to run the Commission following May's EU elections.

Mr Juncker, who took over as head of the EU's executive body at the start of November, has come under pressure over claims that some 340 global companies were granted deals to help them avoid tax during his 18 years in office, which ended last year.

Mr Juncker was Luxembourg's finance minister before becoming its head of government in 1995. He has insisted all tax settlements reached under his leadership complied with national laws and international rules.

Speaking in Brussels last Wednesday, Mr Juncker said there was "nothing in my past indicating that my ambition was to organise tax evasion in Europe".

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