Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

EU states loosen grip on tax havens

  • Panama City. Panama is now off the EU blacklist of tax havens (Photo: Falco Ermert)

EU finance ministers removed on Tuesday (23 January) eight 'entities' - countries and territories - from the tax havens blacklist, while ruling out more transparency or sanctions.

Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macao, Mongolia, Panama, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates were taken from the list of 17 "non-cooperative" countries and jurisdictions that was only established in December.



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

They were added to a 'grey' list of some 50 jurisdictions that have pledged to change their legislation on taxation but have still to take and implement measures.

EU ministers considered that the eight entities have made sufficient commitments to address "deficiencies identified by the EU" when it established the black list.

"Our listing process is already proving its worth," said Bulgaria's minister Vladislav Goranov, whose country chairs the council of ministers.

While some officials considered that the move was premature, Goranov added that "the main task will be to ensure those jurisdictions implement the efforts they have committed to."

He insisted that the EU's aim was to make offshore tax schemes "a thing of the past."

Oxfam, which published a report on tax havens in November, regretted that the EU was "undermining" its own process.

"The EU is rushing to take countries off the blacklist without it being clear what they have actually committed to improve," said the NGO's Aurore Chardonnet.

Markus Ferber, a German MEP from the centre-right EPP group, called the decision "a confession of failure."

"Instead of crossing jurisdictions off the list, finance ministers should have improved the list by imposing sanctions on those countries on the list," he said.



But possible sanctions, which have also been demanded by EU tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici, as well as by countries like France and the Netherlands, were not discussed by ministers.

The EU expects the grey list countries and territories to meet their commitments by the end of the year.

"They have to follow through their commitment or may end up back on the black list," commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis warned.


No deadlines

But Goranov, speaking as coordinator of the ministers' work, insisted that there should not be "fixed deadlines for updating the list."

"There should be a very interactive and repetitive procedure," he said. "Anytime it is decided that someone needs to be encouraged or dissuaded, the mechanism should be triggered without fixing deadlines."

The EU finance chiefs also rejected the EU commission's demand to publish the letters in which tax havens commit to changes their legislations, in the name of transparency and accountability.

Goranov said that the EU may only ask the jurisdictions if they are willing to make their commitments public.

He explained that it would be "unfair" to publish them without their permission, because the EU required commitments "without telling them these commitments would be revealed."

EU blacklists 17 tax havens, avoids sanctions

Finance ministers pointed out 'non-cooperative' entities and set up a second 'grey' list of more than 40 countries that have promised to improve their tax practices.

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.

Opinion

The great EU corporate tax lie

Attempts by the European Commission to 'sell' the new Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base as a measure against tax avoidance are disingenuous at best, say three MEPs from smaller member states.

News in Brief

  1. EU states make progress on Covid-19 'travel certificates'
  2. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  3. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  4. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  5. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  6. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  7. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  8. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us