EU talks tough on tax havens

The EU is expected to adopt a blacklist of tax havens by the end of the year, with possible sanctions on the cards for those who do not cooperate.

Talks on the measures, originally planned for December, have been held earlier in Brussels, after the release of the so-called “Paradise Papers.”

“Rules have been already fixed but we have to implement those rules and maybe we have to also enforce the rules on transparency,” said Bruno Le Maire, French Finance Minister.

“The same for the states, we know that there is a cooperation among states to have more information and more transparency, but states have to stick to their commitments. And if states do not stick to their commitments we have to put sanctions on those states.”

It is estimated that around 10 percent of global GDP is held offshore – and 80 percent of all offshore funds are owned by point one of a percent of the richest households.

While tax avoidance is legal in many circumstances, the Paradise Papers leak has dragged in famous names including Nike.

The EU is under pressure to go further with its plans.

“A directive is a nice first start, a nice first instrument, but it cannot be the final story, it’s only part of the story,” said Guntram Wolff, Director of the Bruegel think tank.

“If the EU Commission contributed to that pressure by publishing data and publishing information, that would certainly increase pressure in the domestic debates massively.”

The EU’s been working on the blacklist for more than a year, but some states are cautious about the measures being planned. The definition of a ‘tax haven’ also varies.
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