EU tackles tax competition inside EU and increases pressure on tax havens

Published: 7th March 2018

In its biannual report on economic and fiscal policy coordination in the EU, the European Commission today criticised seven EU member states – Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands – for their aggressive tax policies. In addition, EU governments have made public the reforms that countries should implement in order to escape the EU tax haven blacklist.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam International’s acting Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, Marissa Ryan, said:

“It is very good news that the European Commission seems ready to finally tackle harmful tax competition inside the European Union. Aggressive tax policies in Europe harm people and sustainable growth across the world.

“Naming and shaming EU member states whose tax policies are damaging both for other European states and developing countries is a significant move forward. Now EU member states must stop their race to the bottom and instead deliver fair tax systems that help to achieve sustainable growth, reduce inequality and secure economic stability.

“At the same time, publishing the EU’s reform demands to tax havens is an important first step for more transparency on its blacklisting process. Countries on the ‘grey list’ must make public now their commitments to end the secrecy around the EU blacklisting process.

“Only then can tax havens like Bermuda and Switzerland be held to account for their commitments, and only then can EU citizens make sure their governments apply pressure to push through these reforms. We cannot let political interests dictate who is missed out from the EU blacklist.”

Notes to editors

  • Last December, the EU released its first EU blacklist of tax havens. The list currently includes nine mostly small countries. An additional ‘grey list’ includes countries that currently qualify as tax havens, but have promised reforms. The concrete reform commitments have not yet been published.
  • Oxfam has shown that four EU member states fail the EU’s own blacklist criteria: Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta.
  • Tax dodging costs developing countries $170 billion a year: $70 billion through tax dodging by super-rich individuals and $100 billion through corporate tax dodging. 

Contact information

Florian Oel | Brussels | | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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