The European Union has slashed almost in half the number of countries on its blacklist of tax havens earlier this week. Brussels has removed the big names and left only small countries labeled as non-cooperative states on tax matters. Opponents say that this will make the bloc less credible as a leading champion against tax evasion after it had published a longer list of 17 problematic countries in December.
“In December, the EU took the lead in the fight against tax havens by drawing up a list of 17 non-cooperative jurisdictions. It now risks losing a lot of its credibility,” said Pervenche Berès of the Socialists and Democrats bloc in the European Parliament. Already then, critics were saying that the original list of countries was not strict enough to exclude EU countries alleged to engage in questionable tax policies.
The list is meant to encourage states to be more transparent about their financial systems and thus make it harder for companies and individuals to hide money from European countries. Bulgaria’s Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said that the move actually showed the EU’s public shaming of noncompliant countries was working. “Our listing process is already proving its worth,” he said as Bulgaria is currently holding the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.
Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macao SAR, Mongolia, Panama, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates have been all removed from the blacklist while American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, St. Lucia, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago remained on the list. “The Council agreed that a delisting was justified in the light of an expert assessment of the commitments made by these jurisdictions to address deficiencies identified by the EU. In each case, the commitments were backed by letters signed at a high political level,” the Council of the EU said.