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Sreda, 28. februar 2018 - Bruselj Pregledana izdaja

25. Umik številnih tretjih držav s seznama EU nesodelujočih jursidikcij za davčne namene (razprava)
Video posnetki govorov
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  Die Präsidentin. – Als nächster Punkt der Tagesordnung folgt die Aussprache über die Erklärungen des Rates und der Kommission zur Streichung mehrerer Drittländer von der EU-Liste nicht kooperativer Länder und Gebiete für Steuerzwecke (2018/2564(RSP)).

 
  
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  Monika Panayotova, President-in-Office of the Council. – Madam President, you have asked the Presidency to give you an update on the delisting by the Ecofin Council of eight jurisdictions – Barbados, Grenada, the Republic of Korea, Macao, Mongolia, Panama, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates – removing them from the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. Let me start by recalling the political process that led us to where we are now, as I believe this is very important.

On 25 May 2016, the Council agreed on the establishment of an ‘EU list of third-country non-cooperative jurisdictions’, and to explore coordinated defensive measures at EU level. Since the start of the process we have therefore been talking about a European Union list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, not about a blacklist of tax havens, contrary to what some may say. The Council’s Code of Conduct Group on business taxation was entrusted with the task of preparing the necessary elements for our decision.

In November 2016, the Council approved the process, geographical scope and screening criteria for this work. At the beginning of 2017, the Code of Conduct Group then wrote to all the jurisdictions concerned to start the dialogues, and constituted expert panels to screen the jurisdictions concerned against the criteria. These panels identified deficiencies in most jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions have chosen, up to now, not to cooperate with the European Union, which is why they remain listed in Annex I. Defensive measures are already being applied towards these jurisdictions.

However, most of the jurisdictions chose to cooperate with the European Union and agreed, through commitment letters signed at a high political level, to take the necessary steps to address the concerns identified. This is illustrated by Annex II of the Council conclusions of 5 December, which contained 47 jurisdictions. This shows that the approach chosen by the Council has led to a constructive engagement with many jurisdictions around the world and that the initiative has so far been a success. The objective is not to name and shame, but to provoke effective changes through cooperation.

The same process applied to the eight jurisdictions delisted on 23 January, but their commitment letters were not received in time to allow them to be included in Annex II at the 5 December Ecofin Council meeting. We take these commitments very seriously and we will closely monitor their implementation through the Code of Conduct Group.

Regarding transparency (an issue on which I know that there is sometimes criticism), while the process can be diplomatically sensitive, appropriate transparency will nevertheless be ensured. As a follow-up to the Bulgarian Presidency’s publicly stated commitment to greater transparency, during the last Ecofin Council meeting, its current chair, Mr Goranov, sent a letter to the Chair of the Code of Conduct Group inviting her to request permission from the relevant jurisdictions to publish their commitment letters. The letter was discussed at the Code of Conduct meeting on 14 February and the Group approved the text of the letter to the jurisdictions requesting consent to publish their commitment letters. The letter was sent on 22 February 2018. Furthermore, the Council conclusions and their annexes are very explicit on substance and process.

We are also in the process of publishing the letters seeking commitments sent last autumn to jurisdictions. We have published on the Council website consolidated versions of Annexes I and II of the 5 December conclusions. A six-monthly report by the Code of Conduct Group on its activities concerning both Member States and third countries is also available. The next one will be in June this year.

I am looking forward to listening to your views. Thank you very much for inviting us and for your attention.

 
  
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  Phil Hogan, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, I am taking this debate, as you know, this evening on behalf of my friend Commissioner Moscovici, and this is a debate in an area in which the Commission has made progress in only three years. Three years ago, the idea of having a European list of tax havens was not a plausible one at all, and I’m sure you can recall the outcry when the Commission simply published a compilation of national lists.

Parliament should also be very proud of the steps we have taken because they are also the result of the constant pressure that many of your Members exerted, particularly through the recommendations of the Special Committee on Tax Rulings (TAXE Committee) and the Committee on Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA Committee). This is pressure that you will continue to exert with the new TAXE 3 Committee, the terms of reference for which you will vote on tomorrow. Among its other objectives, this committee will evaluate the process that led to the establishment of the list and its impact.

It is important at Parliament continues to follow this issue closely and I know that I don’t have to tell the honourable Members to do so. Parliament’s pressure is essential for our goal of promoting tax justice at international level.

Clearly the adoption of the list has not put an end to the existence of tax havens and I want to give you some more detail about that. In the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the list, 47 jurisdictions made written commitments to reform their tax systems in order to avoid being blacklisted. Eight of the countries listed then quickly realised their interest in cooperating with the European Union and committed themselves to reforming their tax legislation. The publication of the list has triggered positive momentum.

I note that some people disliked the speed with which these commitments were achieved and the shrinking of the list. However, the blacklist is not an end in itself. The so-called grey list is more important for the credibility of the process. This list includes 55 third countries. We want these countries and territories to comply with our expectations in terms of transparency and good fiscal governance. The grey list places these countries in a process whereby they are required to abolish the aspects of their tax systems that encourage fraud before the end of the year, or by 2019 for developing countries. If they do not do so, they will be included in the blacklist.

But the work is far from finished: our attention must now turn to the precise and uncompromising monitoring of the commitments undertaken by the third countries. We will have to continue to work hard with them to ensure that they change their legislation and meet the criteria to which they have committed. Transparency will help us to move on from words to action, and that is why my colleague Commissioner Moscovici has called for the scope of the commitments given to be made public, for NGOs, for citizens, for the media and, of course, for our national parliaments and the European Parliament to see for themselves.

It is important that everybody can scrutinise the implementation of the commitments made. That is why the Commissioner asked the EU Finance Ministers at the ECOFIN Council on 23 January this year to publish the commitments made by the states on the grey list. These commitments are contained in letters signed by the authorities of these countries. The Member States are the drivers of this process and therefore the guarantors of its credibility and legitimacy. Transparency must play a crucial role here and Member States have undertaken to ask third countries for permission to publish these letters. We are confident that they will understand that it is in their interest to allow such transparency.

Member States have recognised that the Commission should have a central role in the technical monitoring of these commitments. This is something that the Commission takes very seriously. Countries that have honoured their commitments will get off the grey list. Countries that have not complied with them will return to blacklist. The process must be clear, precise and transparent.

The legitimacy of this list also depends on the question of whether the threat of sanctions is posed. This is why Commissioner Moscovici has called for strong and credible sanctions to be agreed by Member States to target financial flows through blacklisted countries. The European Union will assume its responsibilities at its own level, especially when it comes to the use of European funds. The Commission will soon issue guidelines on the use of these funds.

Finally, let me say a word about the absence of Member States on these lists. This is a criticism of the process that has been consistently made, particularly by Parliament, and there is a misunderstanding here. The purpose of drawing up a European list of tax havens was always to deal with external threats to Member States’ tax bases. The aim was to reflect in our relations with our non-EU partners all the ambitious reforms that have been adopted over the past three years to make the European tax system fairer.

Member States were therefore never part of the evaluation process when drawing up these lists because they are already obliged to implement all of the provisions that have already been adopted by the European Union, in particular our proposals on the automatic exchange of information and the measures under the Anti-Tax-Avoidance Directive, to combat tax evasion. Of course, Member States are not perfect and tax-optimisation practices continue within the European Union. The abolition of these tax arrangements is a long-term task to which the Commission is fully committed. That is the whole point of the discussions and harmonisation of the tax base for businesses, which were relaunched by Commissioner Moscovici in October 2016.

At the same time, and for the first time, last November the Commission called, in its recommendation on the euro area, for Member States to adopt and implement measures aimed at combating aggressive tax planning. The Commission can assure you that it will do everything in its power to ensure that the commitments made by third countries are effective, and that the results of this list on the ground match our ambitions.

 
  
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  Theodor Dumitru Stolojan, în numele grupului PPE. – Doamnă președintă, am felicitat Comisia atunci când, în sfârșit, după ani de zile, a reușit să publice această listă cu jurisdicțiile fiscale care nu cooperau pentru transparență în materie fiscală. Acum, după numai două luni de la publicarea listei, ne trezim că se vine cu propuneri de a se scoate de pe această listă pe baza unor angajamente luate. Noi avem o foarte mare experiență chiar cu state membre ale Uniunii Europene care își iau angajamente și nu și le îndeplinesc. Cred că creăm un precedent periculos, care va fi urmat și de către alte asemenea jurisdicții fiscale aflate pe lista publicată, care vor veni cu scrisori de angajamente pentru a fi scoase de pe listă.

A fost foarte mare efortul de a se ajunge la această listă și nu cred că este soluția potrivită în relația cu aceste țări. Ele trebuie întâi să îndeplinească măsurile, să oprim odată pentru totdeauna această scurgere masivă de fonduri care se realizează prin paradisurile fiscale.

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès, au nom du groupe S&D. – Madame la Présidente, Monsieur le Commissaire, que s’est-il passé avec ces huit États? J’ai entendu le Conseil nous dire que les informations étaient arrivées au dernier moment et qu’il avait fallu la réajuster. Mais tout de même, dans cette affaire où l’Europe a voulu être exemplaire en adoptant sa propre liste de territoires non coopératifs, reconnaissez-le, cela fait désordre et ne correspond pas à l’esprit des travaux que nous avons menés dans ce Parlement. En effet, une liste dont le Panama est immédiatement sorti ne peut pas être la liste crédible que nous attendons pour faire de l’Europe le fer de lance de la lutte contre les États non coopératifs. Et puis, nous voyons bien, avec les récents développements autour de cette liste, notamment lorsque le Conseil se débrouille pour qu’aucun des États membres de l’Union européenne n’y figure, qu’il y a encore une marge de progrès.

Ce que nous exigeons aujourd’hui, ce que nous vous demandons, Monsieur le Commissaire, c’est de la clarté, c’est de savoir dans quelle mesure les engagements sont effectivement tenus. À ce titre, il ne suffit pas de retirer un nom d’une liste, il faut nous dire pourquoi, comment et après quelles vérifications un nom en est retité, et nous fournir des faits et des moyens de vérification qui nous permettent de rester crédibles, car sinon cette liste ne pourra pas atteindre ses objectifs.

 
  
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  Petr Ježek, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, last December for the first time the EU agreed on a list of tax havens. This is to be welcomed, and this is also thanks to the strong pressure from the European Parliament for this list. Since then, it has taken less than three months to clear almost half of the countries from the list. If such progress continues we will have an empty list by May and therefore all the work done. We will have eliminated all tax havens in the world. Well done. I do not know why the Member States were so afraid of such a magic list!

But seriously, it does not look credible at all. We should be given detailed information about the criteria used to delist those countries and what they have committed to. We have heard that the Council is seeking permission to apply transparency. We shall see what and when will be available.

Tomorrow, the EP will vote on the mandate for a new committee on financial crime, tax avoidance and tax evasion. This committee will carefully assess the methodology, the country-screening process and the impact of the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, as well as the removal of countries from the list and measures adopted towards countries still listed. Hopefully, the explanations Member States give us will be more detailed and credible then the current ones.

 
  
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  Martin Schirdewan, im Namen der GUE/NGL-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, werte Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Mich beschleicht zunehmend der Verdacht, dass das Parlament hier am Nasenring durch die Manege geführt wird.

Erst im Dezember kritisiert das Parlament in seinem Bericht die Machenschaften einer windigen panamaischen Anwaltskanzlei, die ihren Klienten dabei hilft, hunderte Milliarden Euro jährlich zu hinterziehen. Panama landet dann auch auf der schwarzen Liste der Steuerparadiese. Aber bereits im Januar nimmt der Rat Panama sowie sieben andere Länder in einem völlig intransparenten Verfahren – weil irgendein Brief irgendwo eingegangen sein soll – wieder von dieser Liste.

Sie erklären damit im Nachhinein, dass Sie Steuervermeidung, Steuerflucht und Geldwäsche für ein Kavaliersdelikt halten. Sie erklären, dass diejenigen, die aus bloßem Eigennutz die Gesellschaft um hunderte Milliarden Euro prellen, ohne Konsequenz so weitermachen können. Aber wir reden hier von Geld, das eben nicht in die öffentliche Infrastruktur, das nicht in die Zukunft der Bildung, nicht in die Zukunft des Gesundheitswesens, nicht in Straßen, Schulen und Krankenhäuser investiert wird.

Sie machen an dieser Stelle eine falsche Politik. Wir jedoch werden uns weiterhin für Steuergerechtigkeit einsetzen und gegen Steuervermeidung, Steuerhinterziehung und Geldwäsche kämpfen.

 
  
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  Sven Giegold, im Namen der Verts/ALE-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, Herr Kommissar, liebe Präsidentschaft! Ich muss schon sagen, dass die Intransparenz dieses Prozesses das eigentliche Problem ist. Grundsätzlich hat Europa hier einen großen Erfolg erzielt. Wir haben es in kurzer Zeit geschafft, dass sich eine ganze Zahl von Steueroasen verpflichtet hat, ihre Steuerpolitik zu ändern. Darauf können wir auch ein Stück stolz sein. Aber es geht nicht, dass intransparent gemacht wird, welche Länder auf die Liste gekommen sind und warum sie auf die Liste gekommen sind. Die Dokumente für das Screening – also nicht nur, wie Sie gesagt haben, Herr Kommissar, die Verpflichtungsbriefe, sondern auch das Screening selbst ist intransparent.

Wir haben inzwischen – und heute veröffentlicht – eine ganze Reihe von Protokollen aus der Code of Conduct-Gruppe. Und dort lernen wir, dass etwa Brasilien und Georgien, obwohl sie Sonderwirtschaftszonen betrieben, die als schädlich eingestuft wurden, letztlich nicht auf der grauen Liste oder auf der schwarzen Liste gelandet sind. Deshalb möchte ich vom Rat wissen: Warum sind diese beiden Länder nicht aufgenommen worden? Und zweitens: Wann veröffentlichen Sie sämtliche Unterlagen, auch das entsprechende Monitoring?

 
  
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  David Coburn, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Madam President, I am pleased that the EU have taken so many off the black list – especially Tunisia, which has worked so hard to eliminate the problem of money laundering. Despite assurances on this, the EU still put Tunisia on the blacklist and damaged its economy. This had severe consequences for businesses and, in turn, jobs in Tunisia. This will create yet another wave of economic migrants desperately risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean and flooding an already-full jobs market.

I want to see Tunisians and others remain in their countries or Tunisians remaining in Tunisia, building their businesses and employing their fellow Tunisians. The European Union are just as keen to put Britain on a blacklist after Brexit, as they believe that our successful, low-tax economy is tantamount to money laundering. No it’s not – it’s just a threat to your command Soviet economy that you’re trying to create here in Europe. You just don’t get free market enterprise, which is why Britain is leaving the EU. The EU should stop extending its new cortical tentacles into North Africa and the rest of the world on the pretext of money laundering. Let’s be frank: the EU just hates free enterprise.

 
  
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  Bernard Monot, au nom du groupe ENF. – Madame la Présidente, il est normal que l’Union européenne, sous l’égide du Conseil, dispose d’une liste des pays fiscalement non coopératifs. Mais ce qui est bien moins normal dans le fléau de l’évasion fiscale européenne, c’est que l’hémorragie des recettes fiscales soit au cœur même de l’Union européenne. Les destinations exotiques ne se trouvent qu’en fin de liste: c’est bien parce que l’Irlande, le Luxembourg ou les Pays-Bas permettent aux multinationales d’y concentrer artificiellement leurs profits que ces sommes-là, ensuite, peuvent être exportées vers d’autres paradis fiscaux. La responsabilité de la Commission européenne est totale dans cette affaire.

Deuxièmement, la liste des pays tiers manque la cible principale: les États-Unis. Je parle ici du fait que les États-Unis restent opaques et sont donc devenus la meilleure place financière offshore. En effet, les États-Unis sont le seul pays de l’OCDE à avoir refusé de s’engager au reporting commun et à l’échange automatique d’informations. Or, avec le départ des fonds, notamment, de Suisse, de Panama et des îles Vierges britanniques, qui ont eux souscrit aux engagements de transparence, c’est environ 1 500 milliards de dollars de fonds offshore issus de l’évasion fiscale qui seront localisés aux États-Unis, principalement dans 3 États: le Delaware, le Nevada et le Dakota du Sud. La hausse annuelle de ces encours serait de l’ordre de 15 %.

Malheureusement, le groupe ENL n’espère, sur ce sujet des paradis fiscaux, aucune action efficace de l’Union européenne. Cette Union européenne qui perd une fois de plus une occasion de prouver une capacité de coopération internationale pour affirmer sa crédibilité réelle. Contrairement aux dernières déclarations de M. Moscovici, cette liste non crédible est, encore une fois, un coup d’épée dans l’eau.

 
  
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  Othmar Karas (PPE). – Frau Präsidentin, Herr Kommissar, meine Damen und Herren! Es zieht sich durch alle Wortmeldungen: Wir haben zwei zentrale Kritikpunkte: den Mangel an Transparenz und den Mangel an Glaubwürdigkeit. Weder das Europäische Parlament als Bürgerkammer noch die Europäische Kommission als Hüterin der Verträge hat Einsicht in die politischen Zusagen der acht Länder bekommen, die heute zur Debatte stehen. Wie sollen wir beurteilen, ob die Ratsentscheidung gerechtfertigt ist oder nicht? Und wie sollen wir unsere Kontrollfunktion wahrnehmen, wenn wir keinen Zugang zu diesen Informationen erhalten?

Der zweite Punkt ist die Frage der Glaubwürdigkeit. Wenn wir von anderen Ländern Verbesserungen einfordern, ohne unsere Entscheidungen nachvollziehbar zu begründen, dann verlieren wir unsere Glaubwürdigkeit. Wir dürfen uns mit Briefen nicht abspeisen lassen, und wir dürfen uns mit Zusagen, die erst später umgesetzt werden, nicht an der Nase herumführen lassen. Wir müssen den Kampf gegen Steuervermeidung und Steuerhinterziehung, für Transparenz und Glaubwürdigkeit fortsetzen. Daher ist es auch gut, richtig und wichtig, dass wir morgen den Sonderausschuss Steuern beschließen, weil wir unsere Arbeit konsequent fortsetzen müssen und unsere Kontrollaufgaben wahrnehmen sollten. Daher haben wir große Skepsis und verlangen von den Mitgliedstaaten Transparenz, Glaubwürdigkeit und die Offenlegung ihrer Unterlagen.

 
  
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  Peter Simon (S&D). – Frau Präsidentin! Es ist doch erstaunlich –haben wir doch eine Verpflichtung aller einzelnen Mitgliedstaaten gegenüber ihren Bürgerinnen und Bürgern, zu Hause Rechenschaft über ihr Handeln abzulegen.

Das Europäische Parlament – als Bürgerkammer für den Zusammenschluss all dieser Länder – will nicht mehr und nicht weniger, als ergänzend zu den nationalen Parlamenten hier überprüfen, ob das Handeln der Summe der Mitgliedstaten so in Ordnung ist wie es ist. Es ist ein bisschen arg wenig, wenn man uns über die Medien zur Kenntnis gibt, dass es über Briefe dazu geführt hat, dass einzelne Länder von der Liste der Steueroasen gestrichen wurden.

Ich denke, Sie stehen in der Verantwortung gegenüber den Bürgerinnen und Bürgern Ihres Landes, gegenüber der gesamten europäischen Bürgerschaft, genau darzulegen, nach welchen Kriterien ein Land überhaupt auf eine solche Liste kommt und nach welchen Kriterien es genau von dort wieder heruntergenommen werden kann, um dann im Einzelfall darzulegen, welche Anstrengungen ein Land versprochen hat zu unternehmen, damit es hiervon wieder verschwindet.

Sofern Sie dies nicht tun, werden Sie Ihrer Verpflichtung gegenüber den europäischen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern, den europäischen Steuerzahlern und dem Europäischen Parlament als Bürgerkammer nicht gerecht.

 
  
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  Marco Valli (EFDD). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, la lista dei paradisi fiscali – questa black list – è una priorità per gran parte di questo Parlamento e per gran parte dei cittadini per assicurare una giustizia nei confronti di chi incentiva l'elusione e l'evasione fiscale.

Purtroppo questa lista, a distanza di un mese dalla sua applicazione, ha visto paesi, come Panama, essere depennati. Panama: esiste una commissione d'inchiesta in questo Parlamento sui Panama Papers e noi andiamo a depennarlo e a passarlo in una lista grigia! Quindi Panama è una giurisdizione che sta cooperando? Effettivamente, se andiamo a vedere, a Panama io vedo ancora tanto di oscuro, che bisogna portare alla luce.

Come ha dimostrato una recente simulazione di Oxfam, se i criteri – applicati in modo trasparente, indipendente e senza interferenze politiche – fossero applicati a tutti i paesi, ci sarebbero come minimo 35 paesi extra UE, tra cui Svizzera, Bermuda, Isole Cayman, Singapore e Isole Vergini, nonché quattro paesi all'interno della stessa Unione europea, ossia Lussemburgo, Malta, Paesi Bassi e Irlanda. Lussemburgo e Paesi Bassi: due paesi fondatori dell'Unione europea, due paesi che hanno visto di recente rappresentanti come Juncker e Dijsselbloem avvicendarsi all'Eurogruppo e imporre pesanti riforme a Grecia, Italia, Spagna, a tutti i paesi del Sud, mentre i loro paesi, che sono i primi a dover fare delle riforme molto impegnative sul fronte fiscale, si tirano sempre indietro.

Io chiedo fortemente che questo Parlamento, la Commissione e tutti quanti chiedano le giuste riforme (con la stessa solerzia con cui fanno richieste ai greci, agli italiani, alle persone del Sud) per quanto riguarda le questioni fiscali a questi paesi fondatori dell'Unione europea, come Paesi Bassi e Lussemburgo.

 
  
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  Jeppe Kofod (S&D). – Madam President, after delaying the adoption of an EU blacklist for more than a year, it only took the Council 49 days to remove half of the countries on the list. Panama and seven other countries were removed from the list, based on secret letters of intent and closed discussions in the Council’s Working Group. As a co—rapporteur of the Committee of Inquiry on the Panama Papers, I find this decision deeply problematic. What is truly indefensible is that the citizens of Europe, the Parliament and the Commission have been kept entirely in the dark during the process. Now, finally, we have a Council representative to answer our questions. I have three simple questions:

What concrete guarantees did Council ministers obtain from Panama and the seven other countries removed from the list? Secondly, what sanctions have the Council of Ministers prepared, in case they do not fulfil these guarantees? Finally, when will the Council abide by the recent conclusion by the European Ombudsman that the current lack of transparency and access to documents constitutes a clear democratic deficiency and publish documents and minutes from these closed and secret working groups?

We need transparency and we need it now.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 162(8))

 
  
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  Molly Scott Cato (Verts/ALE), blue-card question. – We understand from Code of Conduct Group minutes that a member of the screening panel, representing one Member State, blocked the inclusion of 11 jurisdictions in the tax haven black list. Given that these 11 territories include some of the UK’s most notorious offshore tax havens, including Bermuda and Cayman, I would like to ask Mr Kofod whether he shares my suspicion that this Member State was the UK. Does he think this is consistent with the UK’s stated support for tax transparency, and does he agree with me that in future these deliberations in Council should be made public?

 
  
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  Jeppe Kofod (S&D), blue-card answer. – Thank you for this very important question. Yes, I do agree that this is a very problematic case. We have a clear suspicion that the country is the United Kingdom, and I want to say that this illustrates the problem of the lack of transparency. We need transparency on the Council side, in the Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation, in the way they deal with this issue on tax havens and tax transparency. It is the only way to be accountable to the citizens and to Parliament, and I think it is needed very much.

Thank you for this question. I agree very much with the question asked.

 
  
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  Dariusz Rosati (PPE). – Madam President, in this House we have consistently and repeatedly called for an EU blacklist of tax havens. The blacklist that the Council published in December last year is a step in the right direction, but it is far from satisfactory. First of all, it consists only of 17 jurisdictions, with some obvious cases of tax havens excluded from the list, as has been made clear from the final report of the Panama Committee. Secondly, those countries have been put on the list without actually giving us specific information on the basis of which criteria the selection has been made. Finally, less than two months later, eight countries have been removed from this list, again without giving us a full explanation and justification for this step. So I call on the Council to give this House full information, including the criteria by which countries are put on and removed from the blacklist.

 
  
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  Paul Tang (S&D). – Dank u, Voorzitter. Beloftes zijn niet voldoende. De Kaaimaneilanden hebben geen stelsel van winstbelasting en beloven toch beterschap. Bermuda was ooit uitgeroepen tot het ergste belastingparadijs en belooft toch beterschap. Waarom zouden we ze geloven? Waarom zouden we deze acht geloven? Temeer omdat de schimmige lijst over schimmige belastingparadijzen is opgesteld door een schimmige gedragscodegroep.

Wat we vragen is simpel: welke verbeteringen moeten worden doorgevoerd en welke sancties zijn er als die verbeteringen niet worden doorgevoerd? Simpel maar uiterst belangrijk. Geld kent geen grenzen, letterlijk en figuurlijk. De Unie moet de belastingparadijzen dwingen tot veranderingen of zal die belastingparadijzen moeten uitsluiten. Er zijn grenzen. En dat geldt ook voor landen binnen de Unie. Dezelfde criteria wijzen op Malta, Ierland, Nederland, Luxemburg. Dat zijn ook belastingparadijzen. Laten we het voor die belastingparadijzen niet leuker maar wel makkelijker maken: stel duidelijke grenzen.

(De spreker gaat in op een "blauwe kaart"-vraag (artikel 162, lid 8, van het Reglement))

 
  
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  David Coburn (EFDD), blue-card question. – I just want to ask a simple question. I do not see why the European Union should use its weight, casting about the world in some sort of neo-colonial way to tell other countries what their taxes should be and what their taxes should not be. I find this most unsatisfactory. I wonder why you think neo-colonialism is a good thing to bring back?

 
  
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  Paul Tang (S&D), blue-card answer. – There was a time when Great Britain thought about the global economic order and was an active participant. I am not sure what happened to your beautiful country, but it has turned inward and is not concerned at all with the global economic order. I think Europe is an economic superpower and should use this power in a political way, to push tax havens in the right direction and to make sure that everyone pays their fair share, including large corporates and the very rich.

 
  
 

Spontane Wortmeldungen

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D).(inicio de la intervención fuera de micrófono) ... de la máxima solvencia que ponen de manifiesto que la lista por la que tanto hemos trabajado en este Parlamento Europeo se elaboró con total opacidad y que en ella intervinieron decisivamente algunos países —el Reino Unido, Luxemburgo— para intentar sacar de esa lista a sospechosos habituales que, finalmente, no figuran. Ni siquiera está Panamá, que fue el origen del gran escándalo —donde fortunas europeas deseosas de evadir al fisco, también españolas, han conseguido la complicidad de un secreto fiscal y bancario—, ni paraísos fiscales que están en perfecto estado de salud.

Por tanto, es preocupante que finalmente estos países hayan maniobrado para aguar el trabajo tan duro que hemos desarrollado en la Comisión de Investigación sobre los paraísos fiscales y, más aún, que en la llamada «lista gris» se establezca un conjunto de países que son extraídos de la «negra» porque supuestamente han establecido compromisos para mejorar, sin que haya ninguna transparencia sobre la rendición de cuentas de esos compromisos.

Por tanto, va a haber que continuar denunciando esta situación y combatiendo los paraísos fiscales dentro y fuera de la UE.

 
  
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  Νότης Μαριάς (ECR). – Κυρία Πρόεδρε, η φοροδιαφυγή και η φοροαποφυγή είναι στην ημερήσια διάταξη και το γνωρίζουμε από τις περιπτώσεις επιθετικού φορολογικού σχεδιασμού που γίνονται στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, στο Λουξεμβούργο, στην Ολλανδία, στην Ιρλανδία, στη Μάλτα. Σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο, βεβαίως, οι φορολογικοί παράδεισοι αυξάνονται και φυσικά γνωρίζουμε από τα Panama Papers τι έχει συμβεί. Τώρα, ενώ είχε συνταχθεί ο κατάλογος των μη συνεργαζομένων χωρών για φορολογικούς σκοπούς, αφαιρούνται συγκεκριμένες χώρες. Αφαιρείται ο Παναμάς! Ποια τεράστια πλέον υποκρισία είναι αυτή η οποία διαμορφώνει τα πράγματα και τι δεσμεύσεις παίρνουν; Μια επιστολή έστειλαν, αυτή δεν είναι δεσμευτική, δεν δημοσιοποιείται καν η επιστολή, δεν παίρνουν νομοθετικές δεσμεύσεις. Ερωτώ, κυρία Panayotova, η απόφαση του Συμβουλίου ήταν τελικά ομόφωνη; Συμφώνησαν όλες οι χώρες για να βγει ο Παναμάς; Και αν δεν συμφώνησαν όλες οι χώρες, η Ελλάδα συμφώνησε να βγει ο Παναμάς από τον κατάλογο μη συνεργαζόμενων χωρών για φορολογικούς σκοπούς; Θέλουμε μια απάντηση. Θέλουμε διαφάνεια.

 
  
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  Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL). – Señora presidenta, nuevamente hay propuestas de movimientos en la reciente lista de países que no cooperan en materia fiscal; nuevamente, sin una información convincente sobre los criterios por los que unos países entran, salen o nunca han estado. Formar parte de la lista o no parece obedecer a un mecanismo de presión para que los terceros países implementen medidas liberalizadoras a nivel comercial, en vez de corregir las conductas fiscales opacas o directamente fraudulentas.

Nuestro Grupo ya expresó en el Pleno su objeción a la presencia en esta lista de algunos países como Túnez, donde precisamente la población lleva años echándose a la calle contra la asfixia de las políticas neoliberales. Tampoco estamos de acuerdo con la salida de la lista negra de Panamá o Barbados. Nada ha cambiado, salvo que crean que la tormenta de los papeles de Panamá ya ha pasado y que pueden lavar la cara de los «países paraísos» o pagar así los servicios bancarios tan lucrativos para unos pocos y tan costosos para la mayoría de la ciudadanía.

 
  
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  Ernest Urtasun (Verts/ALE). – Señora presidenta, yo creo que todos nos alegramos en diciembre cuando salió la lista, y la propuesta de lista fue un gran paso adelante, a pesar de que, evidentemente, no teníamos un régimen de sanciones como el que nos gustaría y a pesar de que no estaban señaladas determinadas jurisdicciones dentro de la Unión Europea; pero era un paso adelante.

Pero, ahora, con la decisión que se ha tomado de retirar esas ocho jurisdicciones y con la manera en que la han tomado, nos hemos pegado un tiro en el pie, porque el prestigio de esta lista ha quedado muy dañado.

La única manera de arreglar esto es explicar con plena transparencia cómo se han tomado esas decisiones, porque, si no, la sospecha evidente de esta casa, pero también de la opinión pública, es que las decisiones se han tomado de forma arbitraria basándose en los intereses de determinados Estados miembros que han actuado ahí dentro y no basándose en criterios objetivos.

Todos sabemos, por ejemplo, que Panamá sigue sin cumplir, y nadie nos explica por qué se ha retirado. O los cuatro regímenes fiscales que se le exige a Andorra que cambie... ¿cuándo y, exactamente, con qué calendario?

Por lo tanto, hagan públicas esas cartas y, por favor, que este ejercicio sea un ejercicio centrado exclusivamente en un análisis concreto de las exigencias que se hacen a cada Estado miembro y no un ejercicio puramente arbitrario en pleno oscurantismo.

 
  
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  Nicola Caputo (S&D). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, dei diciassette paesi figuranti nei mesi scorsi nella black list delle giurisdizioni non cooperative a fini fiscali, ben otto sono passati in poco tempo nella cosiddetta grey list. Già la prima stesura della lista nera lasciava non poche perplessità perché intaccata da forti pressioni politiche interne ed esterne, ma l'ulteriore operazione di riabilitazione da parte del Consiglio dell'Unione europea appare davvero opaca. L'Unione europea con troppa fretta sta eliminando paesi dalla lista nera, senza che sia ben chiaro quale impegno concreto abbiano assunto questi paesi, mentre non fa registrare alcun passo in avanti per risolvere le contraddizioni dell'esistenza dei paradisi fiscali, anche all'interno dell'Unione europea.

Occorre più trasparenza. Il processo ufficiale di black listing avviene nella più totale segretezza, lasciando i cittadini all'oscuro di tutto e permettendo ai paesi "paradisi" di sfruttare il proprio potere d'influenza politica ed economica. Il rischio è quello di ritrovarsi ad avere a che fare con un documento tanto vuoto quanto inutile ai fini della risoluzione di un problema così grave.

 
  
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  Molly Scott Cato (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, we have long suspected that political pressure in the Council is undermining the strength and credibility of the tax haven blacklist. Some minutes recently fell into our hands that confirm these suspicions. They reveal that one member of the screening panel disagreed on the evaluation criteria for 11 jurisdictions, several of which have played a prominent role in recent tax scandals: for example, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey and Jersey. So it does not take too much detective work to deduce that this one member was the UK, keen to protect some of its most notorious offshore tax havens.

To end this politicisation of the blacklist we need an open process, which is why my Green Group has written to the Council Presidency demanding greater transparency and accountability on the process of blacklisting. We will use the opportunity provided by Parliament’s new Special Committee on Tax Rulings to extend our role in scrutinising the blacklisting process.

 
  
 

(Ende der spontanen Wortmeldungen)

 
  
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  Phil Hogan, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, I think we need to remind ourselves about the progress that the Commission has made. The European Union list is historic. For the first time it gives us the leverage to put pressure on third countries that are publicly recognised as tax havens. 55 countries have already committed themselves to reforming their tax systems. This is an unexpected result. Of course, we’re not naive either, as commitments have been made and they must be kept, and there is a need to monitor the tax reforms of the grey list countries. Once the letters of commitment are published, Parliament will also follow their implementation. The work of the new TAXE 3 Commission will be fundamental in this sense.

As you know, it was the initiative of Commissioner Moscovici to invite Member States to publish the letters of commitment that allowed many jurisdictions not to be blacklisted for the time being. Currently, as I said, 55 jurisdictions are listed separately, since they promised to address the deficiencies identified within agreed timelines, and the Commissioner has asked for these promises to be made public.

Commissioner Moscovici has also been clear that Europe must apply to itself the same requirements of transparency that it requests of third countries. The publication of commitments made is in everybody’s interest, including the Member States, including the third countries which show good faith. These guarantee the credibility of the list, and for civil society it will be very important for them to be able to see all of these particular issues that constitute what is not and what is on the list.

To reiterate the point on the question of whether Member States should be on the list: this ignores the objective of the list. Member States have already adopted a large number of proposals to reform their tax systems, and other discussions are still ongoing. This list, on the other hand, is a tool of an external strategy aimed at promoting good fiscal governance in third countries, putting an end to tax dumping and creating a fairer international tax environment. At the end of this year, the Commission will assess the actual results of those commitments made.

 
  
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  Monika Panayotova, President-in-Office of the Council. – Madam President, before concluding I will try to respond to your questions. There are many, but I will try to organise them and focus your attention on three groups of questions: those related to Panama; those related to the criteria; and those related to the inclusion of EU Member States in the EU list.

Concerning Panama, I would like to say that, like all other jurisdictions in Annex II of the Council Conclusions unanimously taken on 5 December last year, Panama made sufficient commitments at high political level to address the deficiencies identified by our experts, and this is a positive development. In any case, the delisting from Annex I does not mean that Panama is not monitored any more. It is simply not considered as non-cooperative any longer, but it continues to be under examination. At the end of this year, Ministers will discuss the results of the monitoring exercise for all countries concerned.

Concerning the criteria, the criteria as well as the sanctions are available in the Council Conclusions from December last year. This is a public document, because we also put high emphasis on transparency, credibility and accountability.

Concerning the monitoring of EU Member States, I have to say that the mandate for this exercise of the European Union list was to look at third countries, because Member States are already under permanent scrutiny as far as any harmful practices are concerned. Every six months, a report is made to the Ecofin Council by the Code of Conduct Group, and these reports cover both Member States and third countries. They are also publicly available on the Council’s website.

To conclude, I would like to assure you that the Council will regularly update the European Union list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. This does not mean that it will be shorter in the future. Jurisdictions that do not meet their commitment by the agreed deadline – the end of 2018 or 2019 – will be listed. The criteria and the geographical scope are likely to be subject to updates. The next Ecofin Council on 13 March will also return to this issue.

Work on further coordinated defensive measures will also continue in parallel. Some are in the tax area and concern Member States’ competences, but as you are aware, others are foreseen in various EU legislative initiatives.

 
  
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  Die Präsidentin. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Schriftliche Erklärungen (Artikel 162 GO)

 
  
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  José Blanco López (S&D), por escrito. – La lista europea es paraísos fiscales es un gran logro en la lucha contra las jurisdicciones no cooperadoras. Sin embargo, el Consejo no debe desvirtuar esta herramienta, sacando de manera apresurada y sin suficiente justificación ocho jurisdicciones de la lista negra, al tiempo que es necesario ser transparente sobre los compromisos adquiridos y los plazos por parte de aquellos que están en la lista gris. La credibilidad de la lista puede verse afectada si se aplican criterios diplomáticos por encima de aquellos de carácter técnico. Los socialistas españoles creemos que hay que tener tolerancia cero con la evasión y la elusión fiscal, pues es un ataque inaceptable a la solidaridad y a la justicia social, además de ser ilegal. La lucha contra este fenómeno es para nosotros una prioridad absoluta.

 
  
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  Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto (S&D), por escrito. – La lista europea es paraísos fiscales es un gran logro en la lucha contra las jurisdicciones no cooperadoras. Sin embargo, el Consejo no debe desvirtuar esta herramienta, sacando de manera apresurada y sin suficiente justificación ocho jurisdicciones de la lista negra, al tiempo que es necesario ser transparente sobre los compromisos adquiridos y los plazos por parte de aquellos que están en la lista gris. La credibilidad de la lista puede verse afectada si se aplican criterios diplomáticos por encima de aquellos de carácter técnico. Los socialistas españoles creemos que hay que tener tolerancia cero con la evasión y la elusión fiscal, pues es un ataque inaceptable a la solidaridad y a la justicia social, además de ser ilegal. La lucha contra este fenómeno es para nosotros una prioridad absoluta.

 
  
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  Barbara Kappel (ENF), schriftlich. – Die EU-Liste der nicht kooperativen Länder und Gebiete wurde am 5. Dezember 2017 von den Mitgliedstaaten angenommen. Bereits am 23. Januar 2018 wurden acht Hoheitsgebiete wieder von dieser Liste gestrichen, nachdem von deren Seite Verpflichtungen eingegangen wurden, um EU-Bedenken auszuräumen. Barbados, Grenada, die Republik Korea, Macao, die Mongolei, Panama, Tunesien und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate befinden sich nun in einer separaten Kategorie von Hoheitsgebieten, die einer genauen Überwachung unterliegen. Der Rat stimmte zu, dass ein Delisting im Lichte einer Expertenbewertung der von diesen Ländern eingegangenen Verpflichtungen zur Behebung der von der EU festgestellten Mängel gerechtfertigt sei. Ziel der EU-Liste ist es, weltweit fairen Steuerwettbewerb zu forcieren und Bemühungen zur Bekämpfung von Steuervermeidung, Steuerbetrug und Steuerhinterziehung zu maximieren. Die Entscheidung, die Liste 49 Tage nach ihrer Veröffentlichung zu halbieren, wirft jedoch Bedenken hinsichtlich der Transparenz der „Gruppe Verhaltenskodex“ auf. Ich begrüße deshalb die Veröffentlichungen des Rates über die Verpflichtungsschreiben der betroffenen Länder, die zum Delisting geführt haben, bitte jedoch um weitere Maßnahmen zur Verbesserung der Rechenschaftspflicht und Transparenz.

 
  
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  Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández (S&D), por escrito. – La lista europea es paraísos fiscales es un gran logro en la lucha contra las jurisdicciones no cooperadoras. Sin embargo, el Consejo no debe desvirtuar esta herramienta, sacando de manera apresurada y sin suficiente justificación ocho jurisdicciones de la lista negra, al tiempo que es necesario ser transparente sobre los compromisos adquiridos y los plazos por parte de aquellos que están en la lista gris. La credibilidad de la lista puede verse afectada si se aplican criterios diplomáticos por encima de aquellos de carácter técnico. Los socialistas españoles creemos que hay que tener tolerancia cero con la evasión y la elusión fiscal, pues es un ataque inaceptable a la solidaridad y a la justicia social, además de ser ilegal. La lucha contra este fenómeno es para nosotros una prioridad absoluta.

 
Zadnja posodobitev: 13. april 2018Pravno obvestilo