EU blacklists 17 countries as tax havens

The EU has issued a list of 17 countries who fail to comply with EU tax rules and have no tax transparency

The listed countries are said to have failed to meet agreed good governance standards for tax and refused to engage with the EU. In addition, 47 countries have committed to addressing deficiencies in their tax systems and to meet the required criteria, following contacts with the EU.

EU member states are not considered for the list, meaning jurisdictions such as Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and the UK were not included.

Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey were all among the 47 countries which have committed to addressing issues in their tax systems.

Eight Caribbean countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos, US Virgin Islands –  were given extra time to respond as a result of hurricanes earlier in the year.

Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is that of South Korea. In its list of reasons for the country's inclusion, the EU said it has 'harmful preferential tax regimes and did not commit to abolishing them by 31 December 2018'.

German Green Party MEP Sven Giegold described the list as a ‘whitewash’, stating ‘Not one of the most important tax havens has been put on the list’.

‘The list is politically biased as relevant financial centers like the United States of America are missing,’ he said. ‘It is a bad joke that due to the hurricanes, eight Caribbean islands have been given additional time to answer the information requests from the Council.

‘While it is regrettable that Member States demonstrated neither courage nor responsibility when drawing up a screwed list of tax havens, the EU’s blacklisting exercise kicked off tax policy reviews in more than a forty third-country jurisdictions. This demonstrates the potential of European tax co-operation. Despite all its weaknesses, the blacklist is therefore a starting point.’

European Commission tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici said: ‘The adoption of the first ever EU blacklist of tax havens marks a key victory for transparency and fairness. But the process does not stop here. We must intensify the pressure on listed countries to change their ways. Blacklisted jurisdictions must face consequences in the form of dissuasive sanctions, while those that have made commitments must follow up on them quickly and credibly. There must be no naivety: promises must be turned into actions. No one must get a free pass.’

The full blacklist is: American Samoa; Bahrain; Barbados; Grenada; Guam; South Korea; Macao SAR; Marshall Islands; Mongolia; Namibia; Palau; Panama; Saint Lucia; Samoa; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates

The EU's list is available here.

Its Q&A on methodology and criteria is here.


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