Review of EU tax haven’s list remains a total whitewash

Publié: 4th octobre 2022

Today, European finance ministers updated the EU tax haven list. The update includes the blacklisting of three additional countries (Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos) and the complete delisting of two countries (Bermuda and Tunisia). 

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

”How can anyone give this list any credibility? Bermuda is one of the world’s worst tax havens with its zero corporate tax rate. Yet, the EU took it off the list after it made a few woolly promises to reform. To add insult to injury, major European tax havens like Luxembourg are not on the list because all EU countries receive an automatic free pass. 

“This is not a blacklist, it is a whitewash. Two years have passed since the EU agreed to strengthen the list and give it some teeth, but nothing has changed. The criteria remain woefully weak. While this list captured three zero-tax rate countries, it was not due to their tax rate, and they can easily be delisted again. The EU should automatically blacklist zero and low tax rate countries and hold European countries up to the same level of scrutiny as non-European countries. The current list makes the EU a hypocrite as major tax havens in Europe like Malta and Luxembourg escape the list while countries outside Europe like Eswatini and Botswana risk being blacklisted. 

“Stronger criteria could stop the industrial levels of tax dodging by the world's richest and corporates. Governments and ordinary people are facing the cost-of-living crisis. Ending tax havens could provide the much-needed hundreds of billions in revenue as the world’s super-rich would have to pay their fair share.” 

Notes aux rédactions

Today, European finance ministers endorsed the revised EU tax havens list. They added three countries to the blacklist (Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos), because they have harmful tax regime attracting profits without real economic activity; two countries were added to the greylist (Armenia and Eswatini) and they removed two countries from the greylist (Bermuda and Tunisia). The greylist includes countries that fail to fulfil at least one of the criteria but have committed to reform in the future.  

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

In July 2020, the European Commission asked the Council body, the Code of Conduct, to reform the criteria of the EU tax havens list and the definition of harmful tax practice in the EU. In December 2021, EU countries failed to agree on the latter. They have not made any progress on the former.   

The current blacklist includes only one of the world’s 20 worst corporate tax havens identified by Tax Justice Network in 2021, and one of the world’s 15 worst corporate tax havens identified by the still relevant 2016 Oxfam analysis. Among the 12 countries in the world with a zero per cent tax rate, three are blacklisted and two are greylisted. Bermuda, which was delisted today, is a zero-tax jurisdiction. It is the third most harmful tax haven in the TJN Tax Havens Index and the first one in the Oxfam 2016 tax havens ranking.  

In previous analyses, Oxfam showed that some EU countries have characteristics of tax havens. This was confirmed by the OpenLux scandal.   

The EU has listed several low-income countries for failing to comply with international standards. This is despite these countries not being included in the discussions to set these standards or not having the capacity to implement the requirements to avoid being blacklisted. 


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