Saturday

4th Jul 2020

Tax haven list to 'whitewash' EU culprits

  • Oxfam says Malta would be on the EU blacklist of tax havens if member states had been included (Photo: Berit Watkin)

Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, and the Netherlands should be on the EU's upcoming tax haven blacklist, according to Oxfam, a global NGO.

But the four member states will be excluded because the list, to be announced next week by EU finance ministers and to be accompanied by potential sanctions, will only cover non-EU jurisdictions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

The NGO said in a report out on Tuesday (28 November) that the exclusions cast doubt on the credibility of the EU list.

"EU governments have a choice between ending the harmful impact of tax havens on both the EU and developing countries - or whitewashing tax havens," Oxfam's Aurore Chardonnet said.

Aggressive tax planning was said to cost the developing world some €100 billion in lost revenues every year.

The figure underpins a broader and separate debate on development and job growth ahead of an EU-Africa summit in the Ivory Coast this week.

Earlier this month, a consortium of investigative journalists published a first series of articles following a leak of some 13 million documents from the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby, which handles offshore accounts.

It showed, for instance, how Swiss commodity giant Glencore used tax tricks to shift revenues away from African national coffers.

Oxfam's Chardonnet said the upcoming EU list was likely to be "empty" given its limited scope and given the political pressure from wealthy non-EU states such as Switzerland.

An EU so-called Code of Conduct group, set up by member states, is currently screening the jurisdictions of 92 non-EU countries to see who should be on the blacklist.

The group is using criteria based on transparency, fair taxation, and international efforts to tax profits where those profits have been made.

Oxfam applied those same criteria and came up with a list of at least 35 non-EU countries as well as the four member states.

Chardonnet said the secrecy surrounding the EU group's deliberations on the blacklist meant the public was largely "left in the dark".

Earlier this month, Pierre Moscovici, the EU finance commissioner, demanded member states come up with a credible list following the Appleby revelations of widespread tax avoidance and evasion by some of the world's most powerful people.

"There is no point in just having one country on the black list of tax havens," he said at the time.

The comment was largely directed towards the OECD, a Paris-based club of advanced economies, which, in July, designated Trinidad and Tobago as the world's only non-cooperative jurisdiction on tax transparency.

EU states obstructing tax transparency

EU states are blocking efforts to make their tax regimes more transparent, amid new revelations how politicians and world leaders avoid paying tax.

Malta denies secrecy in 'Paradise Papers' leak

Malta's finance minister Edward Scicluna told reporters that the Maltese-based entities named in the latest tax avoidance leaks are all listed on a public register. "There was no secrecy whatsoever," he said.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

News in Brief

  1. EU grants Remdesivir conditional authorisation
  2. French prime minister and government resign
  3. France lied on Nato naval clash, Turkey claims
  4. EU highlights abuses in recent Russia vote
  5. Belgium bids to host EU mask stockpile
  6. France shamed on refugees by European court
  7. French and Dutch police take down criminal phone network
  8. EU launches infringement case on Covid-19 cancelled trips

Coronavirus

EU leaders to reconvene in July on budget and recovery

Most EU leaders want an agreement before the summer break, but the Dutch PM, leading the 'Frugal Four', warned there might not even be a deal then. But the ECB's Christian Lagarde has warned of a "dramatic" economic fall.

Coronavirus

EU leaders seek to first narrow differences at summit

EU leaders on Friday will share their takes - online - on the €750bn recovery and €1.1 trillion budget plans, before they try to seal the deal at one or two likely head-to-head meetings in July.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us