Sunday

20th Jan 2019

EU seeks quick deal on tax transparency

  • Cahuzac: an estimated €1 trillion is lost to tax evasion each year (Photo: Parti socialiste/Mathieu Delmestre)

The EU is hoping to reach agreement on automatic exchange of data on overseas bank accounts, according to a letter sent to national capitals on Wednesday (24 April).

A letter from Irish finance minister Michael Noonan and EU tax commissioner Algirdas Semeta, sent to national capitals, called on governments to agree on automatic information exchange and tax savings rules.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Ireland, currently holding the EU presidency, wants to a deal by the end of June.

The letter said "concrete action at EU level would signal our collective intent, which is essential in tackling transnational tax fraud, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning."

Dublin is also keen to open talks with European micro-states including Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, as well as Switzerland, aimed at aligning bilateral tax agreements with EU law.

The subject will top the agenda when EU leaders gather in Brussels for a summit in May.

Austria is now the last EU country to oppose EU legislation requiring banks and governments to exchange data on overseas bank accounts held by their citizens.

Clamping down on tax fraud and evasion has climbed the political agenda after the "offshoreleaks" revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) in Washington revealed the true scale of tax revenues lost to evasion and avoidance.

A report prepared for the European Commission by Richard Murphy, the director of Tax Research UK, a think tank, estimated that EU governments lose around €1 trillion each year to tax evasion, a higher amount than governments spend on healthcare across the 27-country bloc.

The issue has also risen to prominence in France where former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac is facing fraud changes over his undeclared Swiss bank account.

MEPs and EU governments recently agreed on new rules requiring banks to disclose how much tax they pay on a country-by-country basis.

For his part, UK Prime Minister David Cameron sent a letter to the commission on Wednesday calling on governments to “break through the walls of corporate secrecy” by making information on the beneficial ownership of companies available in public registries.

“A lack of knowledge about who ultimately controls, owns and profits from companies leads to aggressive tax avoidance, tax evasion and money laundering, undermining tax bases and fuelling corruption across the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Semeta announced the launch of a tax governance platform to monitor national government policies tackling tax evasion and clamping down on tax havens.

He told reporters that the regime was an attempt to "protect the fairness of our tax systems."

French leader promises anti-tax-cheat crusade

French leader Hollande has promised to "eradicate" tax havens in the EU and in the wider world, after his approval rating fell to 26 percent following a tax scandal.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us