EU's tax havens blacklist ‘more like a whitewash'

Published: 12th March 2019


EU Finance Ministers have dropped five of the world’s worst tax havens from the EU 'black' and 'grey' list of tax havens published today. The tax havens include Panama, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey.  

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

“EU governments have let five of the world’s worst tax havens off the hook and put the credibility of the whole blacklisting process at risk.”

“The EU's criteria for identifying tax havens, and the process for screening countries, are too weak.  As a result tax havens such as Jersey, where most companies pay no corporate income tax, have been dropped from the list.

“The EU should beef up its blacklist to ensure all tax havens are held to account.  Tax havens deprive countries in the EU and across the world of the money they need to fund poverty busting public services such as health and education.”

“The EU must also put its own house in order by clamping down on the European tax havens of Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands, and outlawing mechanisms such as the patent box that enable corporations to avoid tax.”

Notes to editors


Last week, Oxfam published the Report “Off the Hook”, which analyzed what the revised EU tax haven ‘black’ and ‘grey list’ should look like if the EU were to objectively apply its own criteria and not bow to power politics and economic pressure.

‘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. 

Corporate tax dodging costs France, Spain, Italy and Germany an estimated €35 billion in 2015 alone. If this money was invested in public healthcare it could cut the amount citizens pay for medical care by up to 28 percent.

EU Finance Ministers also approved the European Commission’s annual assessment of the economic and social situation in Member States today. This assessment highlighted tax rules in seven member states – Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – that are used by multinational companies to avoid tax.

The EU has helped to make progress towards more progressive forms of taxation over the last few years. However, Member States have consistently failed to agree on much-needed reforms, such as the proposals to harmonize tax rules across the EU (common consolidated corporate tax base) or increase tax transparency for multinationals (public country-by-country reporting).

Contact information

Sofia Hansen, or +45 61 41 12 55

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