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EU listing of tax havens

21-10-2019

Broadly speaking, 'tax havens' provide taxpayers, both legal and natural persons, with opportunities for tax evasion or avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serves to disguise the origins of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. One might ask why establishing a list of tax havens or high-risk countries is useful. Drawing up such lists began with action to end harmful tax practices arising from the discrepancy between the global reach of financial flows and the geographically ...

Broadly speaking, 'tax havens' provide taxpayers, both legal and natural persons, with opportunities for tax evasion or avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serves to disguise the origins of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. One might ask why establishing a list of tax havens or high-risk countries is useful. Drawing up such lists began with action to end harmful tax practices arising from the discrepancy between the global reach of financial flows and the geographically limited scope of jurisdictions that match or exist inside national borders. However we refer to tax havens, they all have one thing in common: they allow individuals or organisations to escape from taxation. Distinctive characteristics of tax havens include low or zero taxation, fictitious residences (with no bearing on reality) and tax secrecy. The latter two are key methods for hiding ultimate beneficial owners. In the EU, the process of adopting a common list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions was initiated as part of efforts to further good tax governance, and its external dimension. On 5 December 2017, the Council adopted a first common list resulting from the assessment of third countries against distinctive criteria. Pursuing the assessment process, the Council has updated the list on the basis of commitments received, while also reviewing countries that had not yet been assessed. This briefing updates an earlier one, from May 2018 – itself an updated and extended version of a briefing from December 2017: ‘Understanding the rationale for compiling “tax haven” lists', PE 614.633 – to take account of the changes in the lists since that date.

Towards a binding international treaty on business and human rights

08-11-2018

With its extended value chains, economic globalisation has brought numerous opportunities while also creating specific challenges, including in the area of human rights protection. The recent history of transnational corporations contains numerous examples of human rights abuses occurring as a result of their operations. Such corporations are known to have taken advantage of loose regulatory frameworks in developing countries, corruption, and a lack of accountability resulting from legal rules shielding ...

With its extended value chains, economic globalisation has brought numerous opportunities while also creating specific challenges, including in the area of human rights protection. The recent history of transnational corporations contains numerous examples of human rights abuses occurring as a result of their operations. Such corporations are known to have taken advantage of loose regulatory frameworks in developing countries, corruption, and a lack of accountability resulting from legal rules shielding corporate interests. This situation has created a pressing need to establish international norms regulating business operations in relation to human rights. So far, the preferred approach has been 'soft', consisting of the adoption of voluntary guidelines for businesses. Several sets of such norms exist at international level, the most notable being the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Nevertheless, while such voluntary commitments are clearly useful, they cannot entirely stop gross human rights violations (such as child labour, labour rights violations and land grabbing) committed by transnational corporations, their subsidiaries or suppliers. To address the shortcomings of the soft approach, an intergovernmental working group was established within the United Nations framework in June 2014, with the task of drafting a binding treaty on human rights and business. After being reluctant at the outset, the EU has become involved in the negotiations, but has insisted that the future treaty's scope should include all businesses, not only transnational ones. The 'Zero Draft' published in July does not reflect the EU's position on this point. It has been welcomed by experts for its more precise focus on prevention, on effective remedies and access to justice for victims, and on companies' liability for their subsidiaries and suppliers in third countries. The European Parliament is a staunch supporter of this initiative and has encouraged the EU to take a positive and constructive approach. This is a further updated edition of a Briefing published in April 2018, PE 620.229.

The EU - Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

28-09-2018

This report independently assesses the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. We find that the EPA establishes an ambitious framework to further liberalise and better organise trade, covering goods, services, intellectual property and investment, tariff- and non-tariff measures, and regulatory cooperation. Given its depth and breadth, and that it is unprecedented in including provisions on corporate governance, SMEs, and climate change, the EPA is set to become a benchmark for future trade agreements ...

This report independently assesses the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. We find that the EPA establishes an ambitious framework to further liberalise and better organise trade, covering goods, services, intellectual property and investment, tariff- and non-tariff measures, and regulatory cooperation. Given its depth and breadth, and that it is unprecedented in including provisions on corporate governance, SMEs, and climate change, the EPA is set to become a benchmark for future trade agreements. Joining two open economies with high income levels and regulatory standards, the agreement is expected to generate benefits by boosting trade within sectors, minimising sectoral relocation and negative employment effects. Agri-food, textiles and leather products are where the EU can expect to make the greatest gains. Furthermore, the EPA will boost the EU’s economic presence and political relevance in the Asia-Pacific area. Going beyond its economic benefits, the agreement also has significant non-economic implications. Reinforced cooperation will enhance the ability of both parties to shape the course of global developments in a manner that better reflects their shared interests and values, such as their commitment to a rule-based global trade system and the fight against global warming.

Vanjski autor

Sonali CHOWDHRY, Marie Curie Visiting Fellow; André SAPIR, Senior Fellow; Alessio TERZI, Affiliate Fellow

Towards a binding international treaty on business and human rights

23-04-2018

With its extended value chains, economic globalisation has provided numerous opportunities, while also creating specific challenges, including in the area of human rights protection. The recent history of transnational corporations contains numerous examples of human rights abuses occurring as a result of their operations. Such corporations are known to have taken advantage of loose regulatory frameworks in developing countries, corruption, or lack of accountability resulting from legal rules shielding ...

With its extended value chains, economic globalisation has provided numerous opportunities, while also creating specific challenges, including in the area of human rights protection. The recent history of transnational corporations contains numerous examples of human rights abuses occurring as a result of their operations. Such corporations are known to have taken advantage of loose regulatory frameworks in developing countries, corruption, or lack of accountability resulting from legal rules shielding corporate interests. This situation has created a pressing need to establish international norms regulating business operations in relation to human rights. So far, the preferred approach has been 'soft', consisting of the adoption of voluntary guidelines for businesses. Several sets of such norms exist at international level, the most notable being the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Nevertheless, while such voluntary commitments are clearly useful, they cannot entirely stop gross human rights violations (such as child labour, labour rights violations and land grabbing) committed by transnational corporations, their subsidiaries or suppliers. To address the shortcomings of the soft approach, an intergovernmental working group was established within the UN framework in June 2014, with the task of drafting a binding treaty on human rights and business. After being reluctant at the outset, the EU has become involved in the negotiations, but has insisted that the future treaty's scope should include all businesses, not only transnational ones. The EU's position on this issue has been disregarded by the UN intergovernmental working group until now, which raises some questions about the fairness of the process. The European Parliament is a staunch supporter of this initiative and has encouraged the EU to take a positive and constructive approach. This is an updated edition of a briefing published in July 2017: PE 608.636.

State-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms in China: A decisive role for the market at last?

31-05-2016

SOEs continue to play a key role in China's political economy, although after more than three decades of experimental and gradual reforms, aimed at preserving rather than eliminating them, their economic significance in terms of output, profit and employment has diminished with the expansion of the private sector. Since the Chinese government uses SOEs as a tool to pursue social, industrial and foreign policy objectives, they benefit from direct and indirect subsidies for factor costs (notably capital ...

SOEs continue to play a key role in China's political economy, although after more than three decades of experimental and gradual reforms, aimed at preserving rather than eliminating them, their economic significance in terms of output, profit and employment has diminished with the expansion of the private sector. Since the Chinese government uses SOEs as a tool to pursue social, industrial and foreign policy objectives, they benefit from direct and indirect subsidies for factor costs (notably capital, energy and land) and regulatory preference, not least under competition law, in public procurement and as a result of a highly restrictive (foreign direct) investment regime. This has allowed them to maintain their position as administrative monopolies in a broad range of sectors. Despite their privileges, however, SOEs tend to lag behind the private sector in terms of efficiency and profitability and suffer heavily from over-capacity and debt. SOE reform is an important part of China's transition to a market-driven economy. However, despite the Chinese leadership's pledge at the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2013 to let the market play a 'decisive role' in resource allocation, the current reform design suggests that SOEs are likely to retain many of their privileges, hindering private domestic and foreign firms in their attempts to compete with SOEs on a more equal footing in and outside China in the future.

Occupational pensions: Revision of the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision Directive (IORP II)

17-03-2016

In 2014, the European Commission proposed a revision (‘IORP II’) of the existing Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) Directive of 2003, which covers certain occupational pension savings. These are overwhelmingly in the United Kingdom (55.9% of IORP assets) and the Netherlands (30.7%). The proposed revision aims to improve the governance, risk management, transparency and information provision of IORPs and help increase cross-border IORP activity, strengthening the single market ...

In 2014, the European Commission proposed a revision (‘IORP II’) of the existing Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) Directive of 2003, which covers certain occupational pension savings. These are overwhelmingly in the United Kingdom (55.9% of IORP assets) and the Netherlands (30.7%). The proposed revision aims to improve the governance, risk management, transparency and information provision of IORPs and help increase cross-border IORP activity, strengthening the single market. The proposal did not include new prudential rules (i.e. capital requirements) for IORPs following a long and controversial debate. Stakeholders have in general welcomed the focus of the proposal and the lack of new prudential rules, but feel the revision is overly detailed and prescriptive and does not respect national competences, nor reflect the variety of IORPs and their position as social (not just financial) entities. Following the vote on a mandate in Parliament's ECON Committee trilogue discussion are now under way with the Council. This briefing updates an earlier version, from December 2015: PE 573.885. A more recent edition of this document is available. Find it by searching by the document title at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

Corporate governance: long-term shareholder engagement: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment

13-04-2015

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2007/36/EC as regards the encouragement of long-term shareholder engagement, a Directive 2013/34/EU as regards certain elements of the corporate governance statement (COM (2014) 213),and a Commission Recommendation on the quality of corporate governance reporting ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2007/36/EC as regards the encouragement of long-term shareholder engagement, a Directive 2013/34/EU as regards certain elements of the corporate governance statement (COM (2014) 213),and a Commission Recommendation on the quality of corporate governance reporting ('comply or explain') (C(2014) 2165) This note, prepared by the Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit for the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament, analyses whether the principal criteria laid down in the Commission’s own Impact Assessment Guidelines, as well as additional factors identified by the Parliament in its Impact Assessment Handbook, appear to be met by the IA. It does not attempt to deal with the substance of the proposal.

Addressing the Human Rights Impacts of 'Land Grabbing'

10-12-2014

This Study discusses the human rights issues raised by large-scale land deals for plantation agriculture (‘land grabbing’) in low and middle-income countries. Firstly, the Study takes stock of available data on large land deals, their features and their driving forces. It finds that ‘land grabbing’ is a serious issue requiring urgent attention. Secondly, the Study conceptualises the link between land deals and human rights, reviews relevant international human rights law and discusses evidence on ...

This Study discusses the human rights issues raised by large-scale land deals for plantation agriculture (‘land grabbing’) in low and middle-income countries. Firstly, the Study takes stock of available data on large land deals, their features and their driving forces. It finds that ‘land grabbing’ is a serious issue requiring urgent attention. Secondly, the Study conceptualises the link between land deals and human rights, reviews relevant international human rights law and discusses evidence on actual and potential human rights impacts. It finds that important human rights dimensions are at stake, and that compressions of human rights have been documented in some contexts. Thirdly, the Study identifies the areas of EU policy that are most directly relevant to addressing the human rights impacts of ‘land grabbing’, and in so doing it also briefly discusses developments in home and host countries as well as internationally. Fourthly, the Study proposes courses of action by which the EU, and the European Parliament in particular, can further prevent or remedy human rights violations linked to large-scale land deals.

Vanjski autor

COTULA Lorenzo

Fourth railway package still divides Member States

02-12-2014

The fourth railway package was proposed by the Commission in January 2013. This is the latest in a series of reforms over the past 15 years that have led to deep-seated changes in the rail sector aimed at improving the quality of services, cutting their cost and creating greater interoperability within the European railway area, while provoking a radical rethink of public monopolies in the rail sector. Spurred on by the EU, European railway companies have gradually opened up to competition. Freight ...

The fourth railway package was proposed by the Commission in January 2013. This is the latest in a series of reforms over the past 15 years that have led to deep-seated changes in the rail sector aimed at improving the quality of services, cutting their cost and creating greater interoperability within the European railway area, while provoking a radical rethink of public monopolies in the rail sector. Spurred on by the EU, European railway companies have gradually opened up to competition. Freight transport has been fully liberalised since 2007 and passenger transport has been partially opened up (for international connections only) since 2010. With the fourth railway package, the Commission wants to take the process a step further. It proposes that, by December 2019, rail companies must be granted access to domestic passenger services in all EU Member States. In addition, it requires the functions of owning/operating the infrastructure to be separated from that of providing train services to customers, whether through institutional separation, or through a vertically integrated (holding) company, to ensure the necessary legal, financial and operational separation. Furthermore, public service contracts will no longer be excluded from competitive tendering. This obligation will be subject to a value threshold, however, below which there can be a direct award if the costs of tendering would exceed the expected savings in public funds. Lastly, the procedure for vehicle authorisation and certification, from now on to be done on EU-wide scale by the European Railway Agency (as 'a one stop shop'), would be simplified, cutting costs and shortening administrative deadlines. While the Council of the EU is far from a common vision on the proposal, the Parliament adopted its first-reading position in February 2014. However, the plenary did not follow the Transport mmittee, drawing criticism from various stakeholders. This briefing updates an earlier one of March 2013.

Commitments Made at the Hearing of Věra Jourová - Commissioner-Designate

24-10-2014

In her answers to the questionnaires and during the hearing on 1 October 2014 before the Committees on Legal Affairs, on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, the Commissioner-designate Věra Jourová made a number of commitments.

In her answers to the questionnaires and during the hearing on 1 October 2014 before the Committees on Legal Affairs, on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, the Commissioner-designate Věra Jourová made a number of commitments.

Buduća događanja

05-11-2019
The Art and Craft of Political Speech-writing: A conversation with Eric Schnure
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EPRS
06-11-2019
Where next for Europe’s economy? The latest IMF European Regional Economic Outlook[.]
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06-11-2019
EPRS Annual Lecture: Clash of Cultures: Transnational governance in post-war Europe
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