Monday, April 19

Five years since the Panama Papers, what is the EU doing to tackle tax abuse?

Saturday April 3 marks five years since the astonishing leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panama-based tax advisory firm Mossack Fonseca.

While the Panama Papers exposed how the global elite hides their money abroad, Anders Dahlbeck, ActionAid’s Global Tax Policy Manager, argued in a Euronews View article that we don’t have to go far to see how many EU countries facilitate tax abuse.

He called countries like the Netherlands and Luxembourg among the world’s biggest tax evasion facilitators, and others like Ireland, Cyprus and Malta also have tax haven characteristics, which he calls “completely unacceptable.”

According to Dahlbeck, the OECD and the European Union have taken some steps to increase transparency, but in practice, billionaires and companies trying to avoid taxes and launder money can still find ways to do so, as our leaders have not fundamentally changed. laws and regulations. that allow them to do so.

But a spokesperson for the commission told Euronews that the complex issue of addressing the flow of dirty money is not new and provided a breakdown of how the bloc is addressing tax evasion.

Below is a breakdown of the Commission’s response.

About tax evasion

The Commission has been extremely proactive in recent years in the fight against tax avoidance and has pushed for a very ambitious agenda to increase tax transparency and fight aggressive tax planning.

As a result, we now have a very strong legislative framework in the EU, with some of the highest standards for tax transparency in the world.

However, that does not mean that we can be complacent and we continually work to further strengthen our arsenal against tax abuse.

For example, the Tax Action Plan includes initiatives to help tax authorities better exploit existing data and share new data more efficiently, in a way that will improve the enforcement of tax rules and help combat fraud and fraud. tax evasion more effectively.

Furthermore, as part of the Action Plan, in its Communication on Good Tax Governance, the Commission has announced a reform of the Code of Conduct on Business Taxation, which would allow to tackle more effectively harmful tax regimes inside and outside the EU. It also includes the creation of the EU Tax Observatory.

On money laundering

The complex issue of tackling the flow of dirty money is not new.

The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is essential to ensure financial stability and security in Europe.

Legislative gaps that occur in one Member State have an impact on the EU as a whole.

That is why EU rules must be efficiently implemented and monitored to combat crime and protect our financial system.

Ensuring the efficiency of the EU AML framework is at the forefront of the Commission’s priorities outlined in its action plan adopted on 7 May 2020.

In particular, within the EU, we have increased our anti-money laundering rules, which are now the strictest in the world. As mentioned, we have also been working to intensify supervision at the EU level and the application and implementation of existing rules.

Last May, the Commission adopted a comprehensive action plan to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. It focuses on better law enforcement, better supervision, better coordination between Financial Intelligence Units, and a stronger role in setting international standards.

The Commission will present a legislative proposal on the fight against money laundering in 2021.

On Country-by-Country Reporting (CBCR)

A healthy single market requires fair, efficient and growth-friendly tax systems.

In April 2016, the Commission presented a proposal to address EU citizens’ demand for transparency on corporate taxes paid by large companies.

Our goal is to have more transparency of the largest multinational companies operating in Europe, whatever their nationality and activity sector.

Therefore, we welcome the negotiation mandate obtained by the Presidency on March 3 at COREPER, which allows us to begin the inter-institutional discussion phase of the legislative process.

The Commission stands ready to help resolve any outstanding issues.

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