In this section you will be able to find the legal background for the European Parliament’s inquiry into the Panama Papers scandal (PANA).
At the heart of the PANA mandate is the question of so-called “contraventions or maladministrations of Union law“. This means that the committee investigates, in the context of the Panama Papers, whether European Union institutions, such as the European Commission, or the national member states of the EU have either breached or not properly applied EU law.
Some important legal texts which are likely to have been violated or not properly applied are the EU’s directive against money laundering, which foresees, for instance, that banks check the real ownership of companies they are doing business with, and the EU directive for the exchange of information between national administrations. These administrations – such as tax authorities – have the obligation to inform each other about any financial transfer or account with tax-consequence for another EU member state that they had knowledge of.
A crucial challenge in the work of PANA is set by the limited rights that the European Parliament has in terms of investigative oversight. This means it can currently not control the European Commission and national member state governments in the way that most national parliaments can for their own governments. It can for instance not oblige member state governments and the European Commission to provide access to documents or subpoena individual witnesses to testify in front of the committee.