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Eurodad reaction to Council Conclusions on EU tax haven blacklist

Tuesday November 8 2016

Today, EU Member States discussed the creation of a tax haven blacklist during the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

Tove Maria Ryding, Tax Justice Coordinator at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), said:
"The process for blacklisting countries remains highly political. The first thing the EU decided was that no EU countries can ever get blacklisted, despite the fact that several EU Member States are currently acting as tax havens. In the previous blacklist, 'EU friends', such as Switzerland and the United States, were also protected from blacklisting. This kind of double standard will not solve the problem, since tax dodging will just move from one tax haven to another. Furthermore, the EU won't gain much credibility if the Member States can only agree on pointing fingers at other countries, but not get its own house in order."

Eurodad is also concerned that EU Member States continue their discussions in secret in the so-called 'Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation'. Ryding added: "While we keep hearing promises that this will be a transparent process, the reality is that the Member States keep discussing this issue in secret meetings behind closed doors. This increases the worry that this process is deeply political, rather than a serious effort to crack down on tax havens. The fact that Member States couldn't even agree that countries which have a corporate tax rate of zero are tax havens is an example of exactly how political this discussion has already become."

The process is also linked to the OECD standards on transparency and BEPS. This basically means that developing countries now risk getting blacklisted if they don't follow OECD standards, which were negotiated in a process from which those same developing countries were excluded.

Ryding said: "The top line criteria that EU Member States have outlined are very focused on ensuring that countries commit to following the OECD's standards. It's important to remember that more than 100 developing countries were excluded from the negotiations when these OECD standards were agreed, and the standards have many flaws and do not incorporate the needs and concerns of developing countries. It is obviously problematic that those same countries now risk getting blacklisted by the EU if they do not obey decisions agreed in negotiations where they were not welcome."

Eurodad has long been calling for the public to be allowed to see exactly what multinational corporations are paying in taxes in the countries where they do business - so-called public country by country reporting.

Ryding added: "Rather than sending out another political blacklist, the EU should let the public see what multinational corporations are actually paying in taxes in the countries where they do business. This information would make it abundantly clear where the real tax havens are."

ENDS

Media contact: Julia Ravenscroft, Communications Manager, +32 486 356 814/ jravenscroft@eurodad.org.

Notes to editors:


The EU's last tax haven list:
In June 2015, the European Commission published a first list of tax havens, which included a number of the world's poorest countries, but excluded EU-allies such as Switzerland and the US, as well as all EU Member States. After less than six months, the Commission took the list off the internet again. The full list of countries on the list was as follows: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Monaco, Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles, Brunei, Hong Kong, Maldives, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, Panama, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos, US Virgin Islands.