Monday

26th Oct 2020

EU tax haven list could name US

  • Chase Bank in Delaware, US: MEP warned firms could flock to American haven if US omitted from new list (Photo: david son)

The European Commission has taken a step towards establishing a common EU list of tax havens, but critics fear that EU capitals may hijack the show and delete allied nations from the record.

The EU executive on Thursday (15 September) presented a method for verifying which countries outside the block qualify as tax havens (the commission says tax evasion problems inside the EU are dealt with under other, binding legislation).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

”A common EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions will carry much more weight than the current patchwork of national lists when dealing with non-EU countries that refuse to comply with international tax good governance standards,” the commission said in a statement.

”An EU list will also prevent aggressive tax planners from abusing mismatches between the different national systems.”

Economic ties to the EU, financial activity, political stability and basic tax good governance standards could all play a role in deciding which country ends up on the blacklist.

The ball is now with EU governments to name those countries.

Advocates of the fight against tax evasion were carefully optimistic.

”The list is interesting,” said Aurore Chardonnet, a tax policy advisor at Oxfam, the anti-poverty charity.

The indicators were more comprehensive than those recently agreed by OECD, a Paris-based club of industrialised nations, or by the G20, a grouping of the world’s 20 leading states, and could help the EU to target a number of tax havens, she said.

Chardonnet hoped that EU governments would stick to objective criteria and steer clear of temptations to omit ”close partners”.

Fabio De Masi, a German left-wing MEP who is vocal on tax avoidance and evasion issues, also feared that the list could fall prey to ”political capture”.

”It’s good if we can have Panama on the list,” De Masi said, ”but it’s pivotal that the US is included.”

The US state of Delaware is a well-known "onshore" tax paradise.

The EU, however, is basing its analysis of the US as a whole, meaning it could avoid being put on the list.

”The US is the main player, because of its economic weight. The EU must put pressure on it to change its laws,” De Masi said.

The EU list could have a negative effect if the US was omitted, he added.

”That could just motivate business to set up shop in Delaware and Nevada," the German MEP said.

It is the second time the EU has tried to set up a list of tax havens, after one failed attempt which included some of the world's poorest countries, but not Switzerland or America.

That list was published in June 2015, but was taken off the internet after less than six months.

The EU commission hopes to publish the new one before the end of 2017.

EU states warm to tax avoidance measures

In the wake of Apple's record-breaking tax bill, EU finance ministers are giving more support to the idea of strengthening corporate tax legislation.

Irish government in moral dilemma on Apple tax

Anti-poverty activists in Ireland say the government's decision to appeal an EU commission order for Apple to pay back €13 billion undermines its moral authority.

EU commission wants tax haven blacklist

Blacklist added in wake of Panama leaks to broader proposal to force big companies to reveal tax information. But critics sceptical the EU move will make a difference.

News in Brief

  1. EU capital bans Halloween festivities due to corona
  2. Belarus: 11th weekend in a row of mass protests
  3. MEPs back vegetarian 'burgers' and 'sausages'
  4. Macron: Pandemic to last until next summer
  5. Czech health minister sacked in corona violation
  6. Johnson waiting for US election in Brexit talks
  7. Europe's Jewish population continues decline
  8. Report: EU border agency flouts law to help Greece

EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link

Divisions among EU governments remain between those who want to suspend EU funds if rule of law is not respected, and those who want to narrow down conditionality.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Erdoğan whips up Muslim hate against Macron
  2. Gruelling Brexit and budget talks continue This WEEK
  3. Ministers back EU-wide 2050 climate goal, not by country
  4. The German mayor now facing US sanctions over Nord Stream
  5. EU Commission rejects retaliatory visas for US citizens
  6. Feminists target Polish churches in abortion 'revolution'
  7. South Caucasus death toll much worse than feared
  8. Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us