CESI reaction to Council of Ministers’ decision to remove countries from the tax haven blacklist

Last week, the Council of Ministers removed eight countries from the EU’s list of non-cooperative states for tax purposes – only one month after the list was set up. The removal of these countries from the ‘black’ list was done following political commitments, but not on effective and concrete actions. The countries include Barbados, Grenada, Korea, Macao SAR, Mongolia, Tunisia and the U.A.E. Even Panama -just a few years after the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal- was removed from the list. According to CESI this is a sign that the governments of the Member States of the European Union are deliberately undermining the actual fight against tax avoidance.

This decision highlights the power of business leaders over politics, and this in times when global inequality is on the rise and tax fairness a matter of global concern.

By removing those countries from the black list, the Member States ignored the many claims to expand the list rather than to reduce it. In times when citizens expect strong and efficient signals and actions to fight against tax avoidance, this decision goes against the principles of fairness and inclusion, and further widens the gap between those who have and those who don’t.

Sustainability and cohesion look somewhat different.

Despite this obvious setback, CESI hopes (and will advocate for) a strong monitoring of the now 47 countries present in the ‘grey’ list of Annex II and that all will be pressured to implement the principles on good tax governance they have committed to.

The full updated list of non-cooperative states is available here. More information about the meeting last week is available on the Council’s website.