European Union blacklists South Korea and UAE as tax havens


Toomas Toniste, minister for finance of Estonia, which now holds the EU Council presidency, said the blacklist is not a one-off process.

"Given the unfortunate incorporation of the country in this discriminatory list, the Republic of Panama has chose to call its Ambassador to the European Union, Dario Chiru, to assess the steps to be followed moving forward", the government said in a statement.

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

The Council concluded that these countries are non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes because they did not meet Council criteria established in November 2016 and did not provide a sufficient commitment to meet these criteria in the future.

The EU has struggled for over a year to finalise the blacklist, with smaller, low-tax EU nations such as Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg anxious about scaring off multinationals.

Deputy secretary of state Ricardo Mourinho Félix was quoted as saying that the Portuguese tax haven list - which does not include Macau - "must be collated with the European list".

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The EU had struggled for more than a year to agree on the list due to internal divisions.

Is this enough? It seems that even today, some member states such as France, think that jurisdictions should also face some form of sanction.

"We want this list to be complete and effective".

In the meantime, the threat of being blacklisted and sanctioned has spurred many countries to cooperate with the European Union, a sign that public shaming alone will have an impact, said European Union legislator Tom Vandenkendelaere of the EPP Christian Democrats. We must intensify the pressure on listed countries to change their ways. Some large companies - including Apple, General Electric, and others - often stash billions of dollars overseas in tax havens, like Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands, so they can effectively defer payment of their taxes.

But at least 4 countries and territories - Panama, Samoa, Guam and the Marshall Islands - are likely to be removed from the list as they have promised to implement reforms at the last minute.

The Council said countries may adopt further measures at their discretion, like non-deductibility of costs, controlled foreign company (CFC) rules, withholding tax measures, limitations on the participation exemption, a switch-over rule, a reversal of the burden of proof, special documentation requirements, or provisions requiring mandatory disclosure by tax intermediaries of specific tax schemes with respect to cross-border arrangements. "We must not accept unfair tax competition and opacity".