EU ministers cut list of tax havens

Luxembourg (dpa) – The EU is removing the British overseas territory Anguilla as well as the island states Dominica and Seychelles from its list of tax havens.

The finance and economics ministers of the 27 Member States approved a condensed version of their list at a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Vanuatu are said to continue on are on the EU list of non-cooperative areas. According to the EU, these nine countries and territories promote “abusive tax practices” that undermine the tax revenues of EU states.

Anguilla, Dominica and the Seychelles are now included in the so-called “Annex II” of the list. Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Malaysia, North Macedonia, Qatar and Uruguay were also added to the document. There are areas that do not cooperate in tax matters but have promised reforms, for example with regard to the exchange of tax information. Australia, Eswatini (formerly: Swaziland) and the Maldives have been removed from the annex because, in the opinion of the Council of Ministers, they have implemented the necessary reforms.

For the affected areas, the decision should primarily have an impact have their image. In recent years, the pressure on companies not to pay tax on their profits in tax havens has grown. Most recently, on Sunday, an international journalist consortium with the “Pandora Papers” revealed countless deals by politicians and wealthy people to save taxes, for example through mailbox companies.

The decision of the EU ministers was made in view of the “Pandora Papers »on criticism. “While tax havens continue to flourish, the EU finance ministers are removing their list of tax havens,” said MEP Sven Giegold (Greens). The criteria for the list would have to be revised, as many tax havens are not listed there. “Surprisingly, neither the British Virgin Islands nor any other important shadow financial center can be found on this list,” criticized the left-wing MEP Martin Schirdewan. There is a lack of political will to act effectively against the «shadow financial system».

EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said at a press conference that he was basically open to discussing the list’s criteria. The Pandora revelations are another drive for the EU to take action against tax evasion.

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