CARICOM “strongly objects” to EU tax haven blacklist

Georgetown, Guyana (CMC) — More than a week after the European Union named 13 Caribbean countries among a list of 30 nations deemed as tax havens, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has taken strong objection to the Europe’s position.

CARICOM said that it “strongly objects” to the decision by the European Commissioner to “blacklist” a number of member states “on the pretext that there is no cooperation on tax law enforcement with the countries of the European Union.

“This assertion is patently false in view of the continued efforts made by member states to comply with the onerous and unilateral regulatory measures put forward by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which sets international standards on tax cooperation” said the statement issued ahead of next week’s CARICOM summit to be held in Barbados.

“The OECD itself has stated in correspondence to the EU on this matter that “it considers most of the countries listed as largely compliant in the area of tax information sharing.” The OECD went further when it stated: “There is nothing more that they can do in order to be considered as cooperative,” the statement added.

The regional grouping said that it is “indeed surprising that during the CARIFORUM-EU Summit Meeting on 11 June 2015 in Brussels, at which the strengthening of the bi-lateral partnership and cooperation was invoked as well as the strong historical, human and cultural bonds that unite the two regions, an issue as detrimental to the economic development of CARICOM as the “blacklisting” of a number of Member States was not tabled by the EU, but announced subsequently.

“The Caribbean Community, for which financial services are of vital economic importance, is forced to express its deep disappointment and grave concern at the conduct of the EU on this matter,” the statement added.

On Thursday, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mikael Barfod, sought to downplay fears Caribbean countries may have as a result of some of them being included in a list of countries deemed to be tax havens.

“First let me make it very clear that there is no new assessment of tax havens by the EU. The EU Commission has simply asked the EU member states to make their own individual assessments: if more than 10 EU member states regard a non-EU country as ‘uncooperative’ in tax questions, this country automatically ends up on a list of 30 ‘uncooperative’ states that was published last week,” Barfod said in statement.

Barfod maintains that this approach by the EU is an attempt “to encourage EU member states to become transparent about their criteria for ‘uncooperative’ states, to coordinate these criteria between EU member states themselves, and finally to entice EU member states to regularly update their criteria.

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