EU draws up blacklist of tax havens

The EU wants to up the pressure on tax havens with a blacklist. While states like South Korea, Panama and the United Arab Emirates are named and shamed for failing to take sufficient measures against tax evasion, EU tax havens like Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are not on the list. Sanctions are also not envisaged for the time being. Can the list still be effective?

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Heading in the right direction

The list marks an important, albeit half-hearted step forward, Handelsblatt believes:

“It's hard to understand why countries with a corporate tax rate of zero percent haven't automatically wound up on this list. The EU has also avoided getting on the US's bad side - despite the fact that the US tax authorities don't want to cooperate with their European counterparts. Even straight-out tax havens like Guernsey, the Bahamas or Andorra aren't on the list. Nevertheless, merely the threat of being added at a later point is already having an effect: 47 of the states addressed by the EU Commission have promised to cooperate with the European tax authorities, and many have also held out the prospect of amending their taxation legislation. The EU is advancing in its fight against tax avoidance - if only in small steps.”

Libération (FR) /

EU must tackle its own offenders

The EU member states must finally live up to their own standards, editor-in-chief Laurent Joffrin writes in Libération.

“You have to lead the way by setting a good example. In failing to cite Malta, Jersey, Guernsey, Ireland and the Netherlands, the Europeans are behaving like [Molière's hypocrite] Tartuffe: they preach good behaviour but only for others. ... The list is perhaps useful, but it doesn't reflect the scale of the scandal sparked by the Paradise Papers. As their name indicates, these tax havens are just paper tigers that would not withstand an energetic approach. But that demands resolve.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Heavier ammunition may be necessary

The effectiveness of the EU measures for fighting tax avoidance also depends on what can be achieved by applying pressure on other countries, L'Echo explains:

“In addition to the 'blacklisted' countries there's an enormous 'grey' list. ... 47 countries have been given the benefit of the doubt in exchange for a promise of cooperation. ... While waiting to see whether some of them do indeed mend their ways, we can already observe that this united stance has enabled the Europeans to start a dialogue with the relevant institutions that could enable them to wield their full clout. However, if visible results are not soon apparent the EU will have to shift into high gear and deploy a true 'defensive' arsenal against the predatory countries.”