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8 countries removed from EU tax haven blacklist, sparking criticism

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The EU today officially took out eight countries from its blacklist for tax havens outside the bloc, leaving only nine jurisdictions on the list.

Finance ministers removed Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macau, Mongolia, Panama, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates from the blacklist on Tuesday, when they met in Brussels for their monthly ECOFIN meeting.

Policymakers agreed on removing the countries last week, making today’s announcement a mere formality. The eight countries will move onto a so-called graylist, which now contains 55 international jurisdictions that are in the process of adhering to EU fiscal standards.

The change sparked criticism on the opaqueness and hypocrisy of the EU policy.

“The EU is rushing to take countries off the blacklist without it being clear what they have actually committed to improve; this is further undermining the process,” said Aurore Chardonnet, Oxfam’s EU policy adviser on tax and inequality, who noted that the bloc should also take a look at itself before pointing the finger at non-members.

“It is no secret that tax havens remain at the heart of the EU, with four European countries actually failing the EU’s own blacklisting criteria,” Chardonnet said. “EU governments should tackle tax havens within the EU with the same urgency they are pressuring other countries to adopt tax reforms that were decided by an exclusive club of rich countries.”

American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago are the remaining countries on the EU blacklist.

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