EU keeps joke tax havens list for the super-rich and profitable

Published: 14th February 2023

Today, European finance ministers updated the EU tax haven list. They added four countries to the blacklist (British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands and the Russian Federation), three to the greylist (Albania, Aruba and Curacao) and they removed four countries from the greylist (Barbados, Jamaica, North Macedonia and Uruguay).

In response, Chiara Putaturo, Oxfam EU’s tax expert, said:  

“Tax havens helped billionaires to double their wealth in the last decade and contribute to corporations raking in enormous windfall profits. With this joke list, the EU continues to allow the super-rich and profitable to stash away their fortunes while ordinary people are battling with the cost-of-living crisis.  

"The EU's tax havens list continues to be a total whitewash. Not only did it delist countries with zero corporate tax rates, like Bermuda and Cayman Islands, but ignores EU tax havens, like Luxemburg, despite it being one of the most harmful tax havens in the world. 

“The update is yet another missed opportunity to put an end to tax havens and get billions back to bridge the gap between the super-rich and ordinary people.” 

Notes to editors

Chiara Putaturo is available for interview and comment.

Oxfam’s recent report, Survival of the Richest, revealed that the richest 1 percent grabbed 54% of all new wealth created in the last 10 years and  nearly two-thirds of all new wealth created since 2020. This explosion of wealth is also thanks to tax havens that allow the richest to avoid their tax obligations. 

In the same report, Oxfam shows that the biggest food and energy companies increased their profits by more than two and a half times in 2022. They made over 300 billion dollars in windfall profits. Recent examples of companies publishing record profits include Shell and Exxon Mobil. Shell’s tax transparency report shows where they have located these profits and the taxes they have paid on them, on a country-by-country basis. No information is available on where Exxon recorded its record profits and where it might have paid taxes because, unlike Shell, they refused to publish a tax transparency report despite repeated demands from Oxfam and investors.

Oxfam already labelled the last review of the EU tax havens blacklist as a total whitewash and calls for stronger criteria to automatically blacklist zero and low tax rate countries and hold European countries up to the same level of scrutiny as non-European countries. 

Read our December 2021 tax briefing for why and how the EU should reform its rules on tax havens.

In July 2020, the European Commission asked the Code of Conduct, the Council body responsible for the EU list of tax havens, to reform the criteria of the EU tax havens list. Progress has yet to be made.

The current blacklist includes only two of the world’s 20 worst corporate tax havens identified by Tax Justice Network in 2021, and two of the world’s 15 worst corporate tax havens identified by the still relevant 2016 Oxfam analysis.  Luxembourg ranks 5 in the Financial Secrecy Index of Tax Justice Network and 6 in the Corporate Tax Havens Index of TJN.


Contact information

Julia Manresa | Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 87 44 26

Jade Tenwick | Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 56 22 60  

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