Concern at aggressive tax avoidance by some of the biggest global corporations looks set to sit high on the agenda at Wednesday’s European summit in Brussels.
Britain and France have pushed the issue. On Monday so did the president of the EU Commission.
“The total of loss of revenue due to illegal and unacceptable evasion is estimated to be around one trillion euros a year. Let’s put that into some perspective: one trillion euros is nearly double the 2012 combined annual budget deficit of all member states,” José Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
In Britain the likes of Amazon, Google and Starbucks have been criticised for avoiding paying tax on sales.
But immediate steps to close loopholes or ‘name and shame’ companies are unlikely.
Individual countries too are under scrutiny over their roles as tax havens.
One of them is Cyprus, which has been accused of being a haven for Russian billionaires in particular. On the verge of bankruptcy, it has had to accept a drastic overhaul of its financial sector.
Speaking to euronews in Brussels, the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said:
“I have the impression that we respond to all the indicators under international anti-money laundering rules much better than some of the big countries which obliged us to go through this extended rough time. Cyprus doesn’t seem to be among the countries which are known for money laundering.”
Internationally, tightening tax policy between European countries looks like being a slow step-by-step process.