Following the approbation of the European Parliament last June to establish a Panama Papers Inquiry Committee, the 65 members of the committee has elected its chair, Werner Langen, and four vice-chairs.

The committee has a 12 months mandate, ending 8 June 2017, to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of European Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.

“This year I want to have clarification and make suggestions on what went wrong in the last few years and decades,” Langen told EuroparlTV. “And make suggestions on how to settle the issues. We want to increase the pressure on the Member States and the institutions to achieve useful results. There are various issues. One is the individual use of letter box entities and methods of tax avoidance. Another question is if the laws in single Member States deter competition. Europe has to do a lot about this. And the third question is how we can generally achieve more justice.”

Asked about the trial of Antoin Deltour, an ex-PwC accountant who blew the whistle over the accountancy firm’s role in brokering sweetheart tax deals between their clients and the then Junker-led Luxembourg government, Langen said the committee will have a discussion on the role of whistelblowers.

“I think it's unfortunate that he had to appear in court. I can imagine that we'll discuss a statement on how to deal with it in the future. In any case we won't let this deter us from getting the necessary information,” he added.

Langen is a German MEP for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), and his vice-chairs are:

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  • Ana Gomes of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (Portugal)
  • Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (Finland)
  • Fabio de Masi of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (Germany)
  • Eva Joly of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (France)

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