On 5 December 2017, the EU Finance Ministers adopted a black and a grey list of countries, which, in different ways, favour tax avoidance and evasion of large corporations and the superrich. States, which are included in the black list, might be subjected to sanctions imposed by the European Union. However: so far, the EU States have been unable to agree on concrete punitive measures.
17 countries on the black, 47 on the grey list
Tax haven countries are divided into two different categories: included in the black list are those States, which have been asked by the Council to provide information on its tax policy, which is detrimental to the EU States and those countries, which until now have refused to adapt their taxation to certain rules, which have been laid down by the EU respectively. 17 countries fall into this category: South Korea, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Panama, Barbados, Bahrain, Macau, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, American Samoa, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Guam, Samoa and the Marshall Islands.
On the other hand, the grey list consists of countries, whose tax policy is detrimental to the EU, which, however, have declared their intention to change their policy. 47 countries are on this list, among them Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, Turkey and Vietnam.
Modest progress, but still a lot of potential for improvements
However, the fact that such a list of tax havens, whose tax policy is detrimental, exists at all, may be regarded as a success. However, there is still plenty of need for improvement. Still open among other is the question how countries on the black and grey list should be dealt with. It is also difficult to comprehend that countries, which have set a corporate tax rate of 0 %, have not been defined as a tax haven and are therefore not part of the list. The European Union itself has many tax havens such as Luxemburg, Ireland, Malta or the Netherlands. None of them have been included in the list. No measures with regard to these EU low tax countries have been planned, even though they are causing huge tax losses in many other EU countries.
Criticism by MEPs
Due to the many gaps, which the tax haven lists display, a number of MEPs did not hold back with their criticism. MEP Sven Giegold of the Greens for example, regards the credibility of the EU to be at risk. In turn, MEP Evelyn Regner of the European Social Democrats criticises that countries such as the USA, Singapore or the EU States Malta, Ireland or the Netherlands are not part of the black list.