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Troubled Islands: EU Haggles Over Tax Haven Blacklist

Troubled Islands: EU Haggles Over Tax Haven Blacklist

In a statement Wednesday, the Finance Ministry said the European Union decision doesn't meet global norms and could infringe on tax sovereignty.

The 17 countries that could potentially face sanctions for failing to bring their standards in line with the EU's published requirements, are South Korea, Panama, Bahrain, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, as well as Barbados, Samoa, American Samoa, Grenada, Guam, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, according to an ECOFIN announcement.

Some potential countermeasures include actions at an EU level - such as limiting listed jurisdictions' access to the European Fund for Sustainable Development - or measures that countries can take individually.

The list was made on the basis of three main components: tax transparency, fair tax competition and implementation of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), which is a way of battling tax avoidance created by the OECD.

The EU's penalties on the blacklisted countries still need to be confirmed.

"We stand by this realistic timeline", it said, adding that it was confident of being recognised as an internationally compliant tax jurisdiction at the EU's next review. Fondi said officials in Brussels were still discussing what the full consequences for the UAE of being listed would be. That means they promote unfair tax practices, or don't share important financial information with the EU.

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He said earlier this year, the European Union had send a questionnaire on tax issues, and the minister has responded, but it has not yet been forwarded back to the EU.

The bloc did not assess its own member states. Lower-tax countries like Ireland and the Netherlands argue that will hurt Europe's competitiveness.

The most recent revelations came in the Paradise Papers, a set of leaked documents that showed how corporations, government leaders and prominent people use offshore accounts to avoid taxes or otherwise hide ownership of assets.

An existing list of tax havens compiled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) now includes only Trinidad and Tobago.

In its statement, the European Union said it aims to "raise the level of tax good governance globally and help prevent the large-scale tax abuse exposed in recent scandals such as the Paradise Papers".

The list is a result of excessive screening of more third countries before the ministers made up their mind that these 17 non-EU countries will be blacklisted, while another 47 will be included in a separate gray list, to be monitored for their compliance with commitments undertaken.


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