EU must ensure countries taken off tax haven blacklist deliver real reform

EU Finance Ministers today removed the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas, and Saint Kitts and Nevis from their blacklist of tax havens. The islands have been added to a rapidly expanding ‘grey’ or ‘watch list’ of 65 jurisdictions, that fail EU criteria but are committed to reform. The EU tax haven blacklist now contains just seven jurisdictions.

Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Tax, Johan Langerock, said:

“It is good to see the EU’s blacklist has prompted so many tax havens to commit to reform. EU Finance Ministers must now ensure these countries are not allowed to get away with weak reforms or empty promises.  

“Despite the EU’s efforts to increase transparency in the blacklisting process, it is still not clear what commitments key tax havens, like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands, have made to justify their removal from the blacklist. Oxfam is calling for these commitments to be published to allow public scrutiny of the process, and to keep up pressure on tax havens to change their ways. 

“EU leaders have a choice: deliver a strong and effective blacklist that will help put a stop to the damage tax havens are doing in the EU and poor countries - or deliver a whitewash that provides tax havens with the cover they need to continue business as usual.

"The blacklist must be free from political interference and backed up by appropriate sanctions if it is to be an effective tool in the fight against tax dodging.”

Notes to editors: 
  • Johan Langerock, Oxfam’s Tax Policy Advisor, is available for telephone interviews in English, French and Dutch. 
  • Oxfam has published an interactive map that shows the countries on the EU blacklist and grey list, and why, and with links to their reforms. 
  • Oxfam’s views and recommendations on the EU Blacklisting process are available here
  • In December 2017, the EU member states created the EU blacklist of tax havens in order to identify and crack down on tax havens. Tax havens that commit to reform by 2018/19 are put on a grey list.
  • Seven countries and  jurisdictions are currently on the EU tax haven blacklist: American Samoa, Guam, Namibia, Palau, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and the US Virgin Islands. The gray list currently includes 65 countries and other jurisdictions.
  • The Council has started to publish the commitments taken by the countries on the grey list; countries are added as soon as they give their consent to the publication.
  • Oxfam has called for greater transparency in the blacklisting process, from both the EU governments and tax havens themselves.
  • According to the UN, corporate tax dodging costs developing countries $100 billion per year – vital tax revenues that could fund basic public services like healthcare and education.
Contact information: 

Caroline Jacobsson | Brussels | caroline.jacobsson@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 1115

For updates, please follow @Oxfam and @OxfamEU