EC: Blacklist’ to be updated this year
European bureaucrats yesterday backed off after a controversial hit list of “tax havens” that included Bermuda caused a storm of protest.
The move came after the European Commission (EC) unveiled a 30-strong list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions submitted by EU member states.
But a spokeswoman for the Commission said yesterday: “There has been no screening or analysis of the listed countries at EU level.”
She added: “We will update this list during this year and will continue to do so on a periodic basis, based on the feedback we receive from member states.”
And she said that the list was not new, but a compilation of existing lists held by member states, which the Commission had asked for in a bid to create an EU-wide policy.
The spokeswoman added: “The idea is to get the ball rolling so that member states can agree on a more coordinated approach to blacklisting third countries.”
And she said: “From an EU perspective, this consolidated list is important. First, there is a strong public and political demand for greater transparency on issues related to corporate taxation and tax good governance.
“Member states want our anti-tax avoidance measures to address external problems, as well as those within the EU.
“Second, we want to move towards a more coordinated approach to blacklisting third countries — which would be of benefit to our international partners too.
“The current situation, where each member state uses a different national approach, means that there is a lack of clarity and legal uncertainty on this issue.
“It would be much better for everyone if we had a coherent EU policy on listing third countries — that is what the Commission is trying to establish.
“Ultimately, the aim is to have a common EU approach to defining and reacting to so-called ‘tax havens’. This would carry more weight than a patchwork of national approaches and prevent tax avoiders from exploiting differences in member states’ approaches to access tax havens.”
Finance Minister Bob Richards fired a broadside at the EC after the list was published last week.
Countries were included on the list if ten or more European states had them on their own national blacklists. Bermuda appears on the list of 11 EU member nations.
But Poland — which had included Bermuda on its original submission — said it should not have been included on its national list.
Poland signed a tax information exchange treaty with the Island which came into effect in March this year.
And Italy — another of the nations that named Bermuda in its EU submission but which signed a tax treaty with the Island in 2013 — announced earlier this year that had taken Bermuda off its national list.
Mr Richards, who is currently in Europe, meeting top officials from the European Parliament in Brussels and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, branded the list as “unjustified and baseless.”
And he pledged to raise Bermuda’s inclusion as a matter of urgency in the series of meetings.
The OECD’s head of tax policy, Pascal Saint-Amans, also said Bermuda should not have been singled out.
He told The Royal Gazette on Monday: “Bermuda is now largely compliant — they had some deficiencies, it’s true, but they were fixed.
“Bermuda did a good job and we can only be positive.
“It’s a cooperative jurisdiction as regards the exchange of information.”
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