Labour MEPs were today accused of surrendering sovereignty after they backed proposals for Member States to hand tax setting powers to Brussels.

Voting on recommendations from the European Parliament's Panama Papers tax avoidance inquiry, Labour members supported a clause which "calls on the Member States to reach a political agreement on applying a minimum effective tax rate in Europe."

This goes against the policy of successive UK governments which have always regarded national control over tax policy as a key lever with which to control the economy.

Elsewhere the report proposes a common corporate tax base across the EU and the elimination of tax competition amongst Member States.

Conservative MEPs leader Ashley Fox said: "Just days after Labour indicated it may be willing to continue handing huge sums to the EU in return for access to the Single Market, we now have Labour MEPs voting to surrender elements of our tax powers as well.

"It is yet another clear indication that not only is Labour in confusion over Brexit, it cannot be trusted  to run our country."

Conservative MEPs voted in favour of individual tax avoidance measures but abstained on the report as a whole. 

The European Parliament should stick to its brief and not try and tie the hands of Brexit negotiators, Conservative MEP's leader Ashley Fox said today.

Mr Fox welcomed the vote by MEPs to recommend the European Council agrees that talks between the EU and UK can move onto discussions about a transitional deal and the future relationship.

He also backed the Parliament's call for future relations to be "as close as possible".

But he regretted that the Motion for Resolution approved by MEPs also attempts to dictate the course of the forthcoming talks.

Mr Fox said: "It is unfortunate but not surprising that once again Guy Verhofstadt and his colleagues cannot resist attempting to interfere in the negotiations.

For instance, laying down red lines to Michel Barnier's team on what the transitional arrangements must contain is not their job and helps no-one. We need to enter the next round of talks in a spirit of co-operation, not confrontation, and be open to fresh, innovative thinking if we are to secure an outcome that enables both sides to prosper.

"Too many parts of this resolution set the wrong tone and resort to political point scoring. Indeed,  Mr Verhofstadt's amendment accusing David Davis of 'undermining the good faith' that has been built up is the kind of personal attack that I'd hoped would be beneath this Parliament."

Conservative MEPs voted for the recommendation that the talks move forward but abstained on the resolution as a whole.

 

Moves which could have threatened one of Europe's favourite fast foods have been defeated with the help of Conservative MEPs.

Socialists and Greens wanted to veto a European Commission proposal to formalise and regulate the use of phosphates in kebab meat.

If they had succeeded it would have placed a question mark over the doner kebab sector which employs an estimated 200,000 people across the European Union. Phosphates bind the kebab meat and prevent it falling apart on the spit. They also ensure it cooks more evenly, reducing health risks.

Speaking after the motion failed to secure an absolute majority in the European Parliament today by just three votes,  Conservative MEP John Procter said: "This was a daft and damaging proposal which has quite rightly been skewered.

"Once again some MEPs want to ignore the principle of evidence-based decision making and believe they know better than the EU's own scientific experts.

"It is irresponsible to play fast and loose with people's livelihoods in this way and I am delighted other politicians joined Conservative MEPs to block this motion."

Two studies suggested a connection between phosphate additives and heart disease but the EU's European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has found no such link. The EFSA aims to conduct a new risk assessment and a general re-evaluation on all foodstuffs containing phosphates by the end of 2018.

Mr Procter added: "The use of phosphates in doner kebabs makes up a tiny part of our overall exposure. Kebab shops are an integral part of many high streets and can remain so after this vote." 

Phosphates are authorised for use as food additives in a variety of products, including sausages. Although phosphates are permitted in the final cooked product, the Commission wants to extend the formal authorisation to raw frozen vertical meats spits, where phosphates are currently used but not regulated.

 

Conservative MEPs have welcomed the European Parliament's decision to begin trilogue negotiations on proposed new copyright rules for online broadcasts.

An attempt today to give all MEPs the opportunity to amend the proposals again before the draft legislation enters trilogue discussions between the Parliament, the European Council and European Commission, was defeated.

This prevents another attempt by some MEPs to bring expensive drama and entertainment programmes within the rules. The Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee has already rejected this on the grounds it would undermine the business model of many production companies.

Conservative Legal Affairs spokesman Sajjad Karim said: "This report underwent detailed scrutiny by the Committee and it is quite right that our views have been upheld.

"We agreed that broadcasters should no longer be allowed to stop viewers in another country watching their news and current affairs programmes through so called geo-blocking. Abolishing these restrictions is particularly important for linguistic minorities who wish to keep up to date with events in their own language.

"However, to widen this to expensive drama and entertainment productions, as a number of MEPs want to do, could have meant some of the most popular programmes no longer got made.

"Companies often rely on sales to other EU countries to finance their shows, while investors may only become involved in return for exclusive broadcast rights in their own country.

"Forcing broadcasters to make these programmes freely available across the EU would completely undermine that business model."

It has already been agreed that consumers will have access to their subscriptions for services such as Netflix and Sky when temporarily abroad via new portability rules which come into force next April.

Conservative MEPs' leader Ashley Fox has welcomed news of an agreement between the UK and EU.

He said: "Today's agreement is both welcome and overdue.

"It follows hard work and compromise from both sides and I look forward to it being ratified by Member States at next week's summit.

"The really important work starts here. At last we can begin crafting the new relationship between the UK and the EU, a task that will shape the economies of all 28 countries and impact on the well-being of every citizen. It is crucially important and we must get it right.

"I don't underestimate the size and complexity of the negotiations ahead but am confident that with patience, flexibility and creativity we can achieve an outcome that enables both the UK and EU to prosper."