European Union blacklists 17 nations as tax avoidance havens

The EU said in a statement of Tuesday that the goal of the list is to ensure its partners adhere to the same tax standards as itself, calling it "a key victory for transparency and fairness".

The 17 nations found to be non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes are: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macao, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

According to a report by the Independent, blacklisted countries face sanctions and could lose access to European Union funds.

The blacklisted countries are accused of behaving like tax havens.

BEPS is an agreement signed by some OECD member countries to tackle tax avoidance strategies that allow multinational companies to shift profits artificially to low or no-tax locations.

"I'm glad that many jurisdictions have taken this very seriously and are willing to cooperate in order to avoid being listed", Toniste said.

"We stand by this realistic timeline", it said, adding that it was confident of being recognised as an internationally compliant tax jurisdiction at the EU's next review.

The bloc did not assess its own member states.

"There's still a number of countries which entered into commitments as regard to good tax governance and we will be following up [on] those commitments", European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday ahead of the meeting.

Tove Maria Ryding, from Eurodad, another NGO, said that the list "looks like an attempt to divert attention away from the fact that European Union governments have failed to clean up their own house". The bloc has previously accused the Netherlands and Ireland of granting special tax treatment to Starbucks and Apple, respectively.

This second list includes Switzerland, Turkey and Hong Kong.

The issue has come under scrutiny in the past years following the release of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers documents which show how corporations and individuals avoid paying taxes through tax havens such as Panama, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands.

The list is a result of excessive screening of more third countries before the ministers made up their mind that these 17 non-EU countries will be blacklisted, while another 47 will be included in a separate gray list, to be monitored for their compliance with commitments undertaken.

In its statement, the European Union said it aims to "raise the level of tax good governance globally and help prevent the large-scale tax abuse exposed in recent scandals such as the Paradise Papers".

  • Stacy Allen