EU expands tax blacklist to 15 countries, including UAE

Brussels (AFP) –


The European Union expanded its tax haven blacklist to 15 countries on Tuesday, adding the United Arab Emirates and Bermuda over the objections of powerful member states such as Italy.

The list was first drawn up in 2017 in the wake of several scandals, including the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks, that pushed the EU into doing more to fight tax evasion by multinationals and the rich.

Seven countries are to be moved back from a grey list because reform commitments had not been met. These are Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu and Dominica, an EU statement said.

They are joined by three other countries whose tax policies have grown more aggressive in the past months. They are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates and the Marshall Islands.

Italy long resisted the addition of the UAE. The Middle East powerhouse has recently made significant investments in the economically troubled European country.

Rome had wanted to keep the Emirates on the so-called grey list of countries that have made pledges to get their tax laws in order with a standard set by Brussels.

"Everything will be solved" when new legislation in passed in the UAE, Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria said. "The Emirates will come out immediately afterwards."

Britain, just weeks before its planned divorce from the EU on March 29, resisted the addition of its overseas territory Bermuda but relented last week.

Five countries remain blacklisted because they did nothing to justify moving them off the original list of tax havens: American Samoa, Guam, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands

This "naming and shaming" of countries into better tax policies comes only days after a money-laundering blacklist by the EU was torpedoed by the bloc's own member governments, after a draft included Saudi Arabia.

Romanian Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici, whose country holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, earlier told reporters that last minute promises by countries to fix their tax policies would delay the list until May.

However French counterpart Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister said he wanted no delays.

"France wants the list to be adopted today," he said.