17 countries have been blacklisted and a further 47 have been put on notice by the EU in an attempt to curtail the impact of tax avoidance.
This move has proven controversial as lobbying by member states has resulted in the inclusion of some jurisdictions and the exclusion of others. The official reasoning from the EU has centred around those that do not meet international standards and have shown a reticence to changing their laws.
The EU has called the list, which was prepared by the European Council’s Code of Conduct Group, a “tool for securing a level playing field”. The Code of Conduct’s work focuses on anti-abuse rules, transparency and exchange of information related to transfer pricing and promotion of its principles in non-EU countries. The European Commission is relying on a “naming and shaming” approach, encouraging the Council to make public nations’ promises of reforms.
The countries on the final blacklist face restrictions on EU funding or potential investments from the European Investment Bank. EU governments, meanwhile, can choose to impose their own sanctions against the blacklisted countries — an initiative that Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the bloc must take.
The blacklist in full is; South Korea, Mongolia, Namibia, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahrain, American Samoa, Barbados, Grenada, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Palau, St Lucia, Samoa, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. Also on the list is the US jurisdiction of Guam, a move that is likely to upset American legislators.
UK jurisdictions including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man have been placed on a so-called “grey list”, highlighting that they have committed to reforming their tax structures. They are alongside a further 43 jurisdictions who have also been placed on the list. After raising issues with member states the only country to refuse to correspond with EU tax experts was the African state of Namibia.
The UK Treasury said: “Today’s publication marks an important step in our ongoing efforts to tackle tax avoidance and evasion internationally. This is clearly working, as over 40 jurisdictions have made significant commitments to reform as part of this process. For those that are on today’s list, we hope that this increased scrutiny and the potential for counter-measures will lead them to reconsider their approach.”
However, Alex Cobham, chief executive of the Tax Justice Network, a UK-based NGO, called the list “a political fix” and “the result of the flawed blacklisting process… that includes only the economically weak and politically unconnected.”
Read the full story in Forbes:
The European Union revealed Tuesday its long-anticipated, first-ever blacklist of tax havens that cross continents, oceans and languages and includes U.K. territories and dependencies, Panama, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Mongolia. Formerly called "non-cooperative tax jurisdictions," the E.U.
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