SPIEGEL: EU Fearful of Including U.S. on Tax-Haven List

A press review featuring Fabio De Masi

Aug 23rd, 2019

SPIEGEL: EU Fearful of Including U.S. on Tax-Haven List

"Although the United States fits the definition of a tax haven, EU officials in Brussels are weary of publicly shaming it on a "black list" of countries that allow companies to avoid taxes. Given Trump's harsh rhetoric, the Europeans are worried about a further deterioration of ties. 

It sounded like a historical moment was in the offing. For the first time, Europe's finance ministers were seriously planning on publicly denouncing tax havens by presenting a black list of countries that lure companies through tax-saving schemes. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the countries on the list were "not doing enough to fight tax evasion." Fellow Frenchman Pierre Moscovici, the European Union's commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, called for vigorous sanctions. 

The scandals surrounding Lux Leaks and the Panama Papers in recent years revealed how brazenly some states allow tax dumping at the expense of their neighbors. The EU then declared that it would force those countries to increase transparency by exchanging tax data. (...)

According to conservative estimates, EU countries are losing between 60 and 200 billion euros per year due to tax evasion. "Straight talk is the only language Donald Trump understands," says Fabio De Masi, a member the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, representing the leftist Left Party. "It cannot be that the world's biggest tax haven, the U.S., is taken out of the EU list."

He is supported by Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament representing the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats. Ferber visited the U.S. states together with other members of a special committee investigating the Lux Leaks data three years ago to look into their tax-avoidance tricks. "Many U.S. states like Delaware are tax havens," he says. The Green Party in the European Parliament have adopted a similar stance. "If the black list is to do what it promises," says Sven Giegold, a financial expert in the party, "then the U.S. definitely needs to be named."