EU countries push for tougher tax blacklist

France, Germany and Spain are among a group of EU countries that is calling for stricter criteria and tougher sanctions for countries that facilitate tax avoidance, according to an EU document seen by news agency Reuters.

Citing an unnamed EU official, Reuters reported that Croatia, which holds the EU presidency for six months from January, had said current tax blacklist criteria would be reviewed most likely in February or March.

The document, prepared by the Danish government, also asks whether the EU internally had sufficient safeguards against tax avoidance and tax evasion.

It puts the group on a collision course with EU members Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which widely use tax incentives to attract business.

The current list of countries that are deemed uncooperative in tax matters exempts EU members. Since the first EU blacklist was published in December 2017, it has been revised 10 times.

Only eight countries are blacklisted and most of them have hardly any financial relations with the European bloc. They are American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Vanuatu.

The EU’s screening and monitoring process has come under criticism from all sides, both as being arbitrary and for failing to list countries that are typically considered tax havens.

The EU-wide list was intended to replace national tax blacklists. However, earlier this month France announced it would place Anguilla, Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Seychelles on its blacklist.

Public Accounts Minister Gerald Darmanin said in an interview with Journal du Dimanche the jurisdictions were not cooperative enough in terms of financial transparency.

The Cayman Islands is currently grey-listed and has committed to addressing any remaining concerns related to collective investment funds by adapting its legislation before the end of 2019.

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