European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the Luxleaks documents will be treated as "market information". Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/Scanpix
The European Commission’s competition commissioner, Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, said on Thursday that her team would dig deeper into the trove of leaked information on sweetheart deals between Luxembourg and multinational companies.
Vestager’s decision to use the 548 leaked documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) comes despite complaints from Luxembourg’s government and the accounting firm PwC that the documents were obtained illegally.
In her first press briefing as competition commissioner, Vestager was met with a barrage of questions about the leaked documents, known as Luxleaks.
"We consider the Luxembourg-leaked documents as market information. We will examine it and evaluate whether or not this will lead to the opening of new cases," Vestager said on Thursday.
The ICIJ leaks exposed the various ways that Luxembourg has assisted multinational companies like Pepsi, Volkswagon and Ikea funnel profits to Luxembourg from high-tax countries.
The findings have put pressure on Jean Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s ex-prime minister and the recently appointed chief of the European Commission. Last week he insisted that Luxembourg’s tax practices conform with EU law.
Vestager said that she “admired the journalistic work” behind Luxleaks and said that the new information has helped move the commission closer to passing a proposal on a common consolidated corporate tax base.
"I hope that some of the momentum created by the work of the journalists will enable us to pass it, because it would be a great benefit for citizens, but also for the companies who do not do tax planning," Vestager said.