The publication of the European Council’s so-called tax haven blacklist served to show a “lack of effective action being taken” by the European Union on widespread tax avoidance, a UK taxation lobbying group said today.
Tax Justice Network chief executive Alex Cobham, pictured left, said that the EU had missed a great opportunity to tackle the real issues lying behind the large-scale tax avoidance and tax evasion that is “bleeding EU countries dry”.
What was originally envisaged, he said, was “a list of tax havens based on an objective set of criteria”.
But what had been delivered was what appeared to be a “political fix”, a carve-up that allowed EU member states picking “their least favourite countries to name and shame”.
This horse-trading had meant the final list was a “politically led list”, and one that that included only the “economically weak and politically unconnected”.
Cobham singled out EU member states such as the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourg as prime offenders, describing them as “the greatest procurers of global profit shifting”, and expressing contempt at the fact they had not appeared on the so-called blacklist.
He also had strong words as to the lobbying of the UK government, saying it had “sought to frustrate the blacklisting of its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories at every turn”, meaning that it was difficult to take the list seriously.
“The public has had enough of governments saying they will do better,” said Cobham.
“Real action is needed,” he emphasised. “It is completely pointless to have a blacklist with no sanctions. Tax avoiders, and the countries that sponsor them will all be letting out a sigh of relief today.
“The Tax Justice Network today reiterates our call for a global convention on tax and transparency, to create a level playing field that treats all jurisdictions fairly – and provides the basis for meaningful sanctions to end tax haven behaviour once and for all.”