EU official ‘justifies’ decision to remove half of countries from blacklist
17 Jan 2018

The European Union acted correctly by de-listing a significant number of states from its group of non-cooperative jurisdictions in taxation matters, which was published just over a month ago, an insider told KYC360.

The official, who asked not to be named, sat in on some of the tax blacklisting discussion meetings that were held before the lists were published last month.

On Wednesday, the person said that all EU member states had approved the move and there would be no further discussions on the matter, saying that Panama, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Barbados, Grenada, Macao and Mongolia will be officially removed from the category dubbed the blacklist, and upgraded into Annex 2 or the EU watch-list, which is loosely referred to as the ‘grey list.’

Tunisia is also set to be removed from the blacklist, although there were some issues with that country, the official said.

“What has happened with this update is that a number of countries did what was required, their commitments were assessed and all member states have already approved it. There is no need for ambassadors to meet to discuss it – it has already been approved, and there are no talks needed. It should be published next week,” said the person.

“Some of these states probably appeared on the list in the first place simply because they missed the deadline to submit their documents [on time]. On the day the lists were published there were rumours that some had submitted [their positions]. The conditions are now right for them.”

In the run-up to the final publication of the lists, there were task forces for each group of countries and officials from EU member states held discussions, amid reports that there were huge differences on deciding which countries should be on the lists.

“If there were differences between the member states at the meetings it was more in defining the criteria – i.e. do we consider this [and that] to be a criteria or do we do it differently. I don’t deny there must have been some differences. But once the criteria was set it was [easy] to work from there.”

Regarding suggestions that anti-corruption campaigners may express dissatisfaction that the blacklist is diminishing and some jurisdictions such as Panama, associated with large-scale tax evasion, may be upgraded, the official said: “The idea is that we want to promote tax transparency worldwide. We look at transparency, fairness and anti-BEPs measures.”

“These are the things that countries will have to do in order to be compliant. The idea is to have no-one on the lists which will mean that there is nowhere to hide money. If people are criticising us because our plan is working … ”

The official indicated that while some of the countries “may have acted as tax havens in the past,” they are now making these reforms, which shows that the EU mission is being accomplished.

“It could have also been that our list of 17 countries was too big to start off with, and now it is coming down to size,” the official said.

By Irene Madongo

Related topics:

EU tax blacklist update: Agreement reached, EU to remove several countries

New EU tax blacklist and grey list – here’s what you need to know

2017 EU Anti-Money Laundering (AML) – key developments

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