Jean-Claude Juncker regrets failing to reform Luxembourg tax laws

European Commission president says he should have reformed law. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president under fire over Luxembourg’s tax regime when he was premier, wishes he had changed the law to give his government more oversight of tax deals with multinationals.

In his most extensive comments on the tax controversy that erupted this month, Mr Juncker defended the Grand Duchy’s pursuit of what he called “future-oriented” companies from abroad, saying it was part of a strategy to diversify an economy that had become increasingly reliant on a “monolithic” banking industry.

But he acknowledgedthat the tax rulings, which have come under intense scrutiny since leaked documents revealed that many foreign companies with operations in Luxembourg used them to pay negligible taxes on profits, should have been more closely scrutinised.

“I would do exactly the same [thing] because we had no other choice than to diversify our economy,” Mr Juncker told the Financial Times and journalists from seven other European newspapers. “But I would have had a more precise look at these tax rulings.”

“Everyone knew that these tax rulings did exist in Luxembourg and did exist in other countries … and I would have changed the law allowing the finance minister to be involved, which our law does not allow,” he added. “In other countries finance ministers are taking decisions.”

Mr Juncker’s remarks came before the European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected a censure motion that would have forced him to resign over the controversy less than a month after he took office.