EU lets tax havens of Bermuda, Barbados and Aruba off the hook in blacklist review

Published: 17th May 2019

European Union finance ministers have removed the British territory of Bermuda, Barbados, and the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba from the EU blacklist of tax havens today.

Chiara Putaturo, Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on Tax and Inequalities, said:

“EU governments have – once again – let some of the world’s worst tax havens off the hook. The reforms agreed by Bermuda, Barbados and Aruba will not stop them operating as tax havens. They will continue to offer very aggressive tax regimes and very low or zero corporate tax rates that facilitate large-scale tax dodging and encourage a damaging race to the bottom on corporate tax.

“The EU should raise the bar and blacklist all jurisdictions that offer very low or zero corporate tax rates. Tax havens rob countries in Europe and across the developing world of the tax revenues they need to invest in public services such as schools and clinics, and it’s ordinary people – women in particular – who pay the price.”

Notes to editors

  • European Finance Ministers removed the tax havens of Panama, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey from the EU tax haven blacklist and 'grey list' in March 2019. 
  • The EU blacklist includes countries that do not comply with at least one of the EU’s three criteria for tax havens. Zero- or near zero-tax regimes are not a binding criterion, but only a ‘risk indicator’ according to the EU blacklist rules. The EU also has a ‘grey list’ of countries that do not comply with at least one of the three EU tax haven criteria, but have committed to reform.
  • Bermuda, Barbados and Aruba were removed from the blacklist, but Bermuda and Barbados have been listed in the 'grey list', while Aruba has been delisted from both lists. 
  • Oxfam’s report “Off the Hook”, published in March 2019, explains why the EU blacklisting process is not fit for purpose and helps to whitewash some of the world’s tax havens.
  • ‘Off the Hook’ also found that five EU member states – Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands – would be listed as tax havens if the EU criteria were applied to them.
  • The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to formally recognize these five EU member states as tax havens.
  • The European Commission and the European Parliament have pushed for more progressive forms of taxation in recent years. However, member states have consistently failed to agree on much-needed reforms, including proposals to harmonize tax rules across the EU (common consolidated corporate tax base) or measures designed to increase corporate tax transparency (public country-by-country reporting).

Contact information

Sofia Hansen | Brussels | | office +32 2 234 11 29

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