The publication on Wednesday 17 June by the EU Commission of a so-called ‘blacklist’ of 30 ‘non-cooperative’ jurisdictions which the Commission claims to not meet EU standards of transparency, exchange of information and fair tax competition is a curious piece of work. The Commission claims its list is based on equivalent lists by EU Member States. In fact, most EU Member States, including Germany, the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, have no such blacklist. Indeed out of 28 Member States it appears that only 12 actually have a blacklist for the Commission to base its work on.
Even more curiously, the Commission emphasises that these blacklists are based on compliance with transparency and exchange of information standards and absence of harmful tax measures, which sound reasonable and objective criterion. But of the 12 Member States with blacklists, ten are based to a greater or lesser extent on rather mysterious ‘other criterion’.
Even those campaigning for tougher action on tax abuse are wary of this particular piece of Commission work, with one prominent activist describing it as ‘political sop’. It is, to say the least, hardly the best example of evidence-based policy making from the EU.