Monday

26th Oct 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

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

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 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