EU to draw up tax haven blacklist

EU nations have agreed to draw up a blacklist of tax havens in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks. Finance ministers have endorsed the move, which is to be completed by the end of the summer.

AFP| Last Updated: Apr 24, 2016, 09:32 AM IST
EU to draw up tax haven blacklist

Amsterdam: EU nations have agreed to draw up a blacklist of tax havens in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks. Finance ministers have endorsed the move, which is to be completed by the end of the summer.

The European Commission says nations on the tax blacklist should be sanctioned if appeals for change go unheeded.

Plans for a single EU list of "non-cooperative jurisdictions" have been blocked in the past by conflicting national interests. Currently the 28 EU states have different national lists of tax havens and can decide individually whether to impose restrictive measures.

EU finance ministers also endorsed a series of measures on Saturday to fight tax evading methods used by Europeans exposed by the Panama Papers scandal.

"The sense of urgency is definitely much bigger," said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the finance minister from the Netherlands that holds the EU's rotating presidency, on the second day of talks in Amsterdam."We've been (so) very busy competing with each other ... that big companies tend not to pay taxes," said Dijsselbloem who is also head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers."There is unanimous support that Europe create its own list of tax havens by this summer," said European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

The ministers also backed a proposal by the EU's top powers to automatically exchange data in order to expose the real owners of shell companies.Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain unveiled the measure at G20 talks in Washington last week.

"There is an assumed and converging willingness to fight any anonymous mechanisms" that aid tax evasion and money laundering, said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin.The EU member countries will also launch talks next week on new rules requiring big companies operating in Europe to make public what they earn in each member state of the 28-nation bloc, Dijsselbloem said.Country-by-country reporting has for years been a major demand of tax activists who accuse big corporations of secretly shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions, often through the use of shell companies.

EU governments are divided on the proposal, with some arguing that sensitive corporate data should remain exclusive to tax authorities and not made public."I think we should not overshoot in tackling these things out of the hysteria on Panama," said Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling.