The European Union has removed eight jurisdictions, including Panama, from its tax haven blacklist that was adopted last month. Only nine countries now remain on the list.
The eight countries removed are Barbados, Grenada, Macao, Mongolia, Panama, South Korea, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
While some of these countries, Mongolia for example, were first included on the list because they were slow to react to the demands of the EU, others – such as Panama and Barbados – have featured prominently in recent investigations by ICIJ.
German MEP Markus Ferber, who is a member of the parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said the blacklist “becomes laughable” after the delisting of Panama.
“Panama has built its reputation of a top-notch tax haven and money-laundering hub for years – the Panama Papers are proof of that. To pardon Panama after only a little more than month and a noncommittal letter promising to do better is hard to beat in terms of naivety.”
The eight countries will, instead, be on the tax haven grey list, which is a list of countries that have agreed to meet tax requirements within one or two years (depending on if they are classed as “developing” or not). There were originally 47 countries on this list.
However, it is not clear what specific commitments were made.
The three criteria used when developing the blacklist last month were the nation’s:
- Tax transparency
- Fair tax rules
- Commitment to implementing OECD’s measures to curtail tax optimization.
“The EU is rushing to take countries off the blacklist without it being clear what they have actually committed to improve; this is further undermining the process,” said Aurore Chardonnet, Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on tax and inequality.
The EU commissioner for tax, Pierre Moscovici, has previously told ICIJ that the development of the lists was far from perfect.
“There is some shyness in the list,” he told ICIJ. “There were some – I wouldn’t say diplomatic compromises, but certainly some countries’ commitments were taken at face value.”
Jurisdictions that remain on the blacklist are American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa, and Trinidad and Tobago.