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1ST LEAD EU adds three countries to tax blacklist, removes three others By Helen Maguire, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - EU finance ministers removed Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia from a blacklist of international tax havens on Tuesday, while adding Saint Kitts and Nevis, the US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

The European Union drew up the blacklist in December, amid broader efforts to double down on tax avoidance. It currently comprises nine countries, while a separate "grey" list contains jurisdictions that have committed to bringing their tax laws in line with EU standards.

Countries on the blacklist face EU funding restrictions, but member states disagree on the need to impose further sanctions to encourage reform.

The blacklist initially comprised 17 countries, but eight of those later came forward with promises to improve their tax regimes.

"I am glad to see more jurisdictions ... committing themselves to reforming their tax policies in a manner that will remedy our concerns," said Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, whose country holds the EU‘s rotating presidency.

"We call on all jurisdictions on the list to do likewise, and on all those that have already made commitments to implement them in a timely manner," he added.

Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia will now move to the grey list, while the EU will monitor whether they implement their commitments.

When the EU initially drew up its blacklist in December, it gave extra time to Caribbean islands that had been struck by hurricanes last year. This period has now lapsed, prompting the decision Tuesday to add Saint Kitts and Nevis, the US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas to the blacklist.

Four other Caribbean states - Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and Dominica - were all added to the grey list after pledging to cooperate with the EU.

Following calls for greater transparency, the EU has begun publishing the commitments taken by countries on the "grey" list. Jurisdictions on the list have a year to implement their pledges, or two years in the case of developing economies.


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