EU finance ministers sought today to break resistance against creating Europe’s first ever blacklist of tax havens after new revelations from the “Paradise Papers” showed how major firms escape tax.
The 28 members of the European Union have struggled for over a year to finalise a list of non-EU tax havens, with smaller countries such as Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg loath to scare off major firms headquartered in their low tax capitals.
Soon-to-quit Britain has also drawn up resistance, hoping to protect the near zero-tax rates offered in several of its dependencies, such as Jersey or the British Virgin Islands, that have been identified in the series of leaks that also include Panama Papers and the Luxleaks scandal.
The island of Jersey, a few kilometres (miles) off the coast of France, was where the latest reports said Apple shifted much of its offshore wealth when Ireland changed its laws under pressure from the EU.
“It is important that this list comes out (…) in 2017, it must be credible and up to the challenge,” said EU Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who is leading the blacklist effort.
The EU ministers will try to bridge their differences and draw up an official list of unwanted tax havens in December, whittling down an initial list of 92 countries finalised last year.
Sources said EU officials have warned about 60 countries that their tax policies may be problematic and at risk of blacklisting, demanding further information before a November 18 deadline.