European Union removes Panama and seven other jurisdictions from its 'tax haven blacklist'

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Eight of the 17 countries previously included on the "non-cooperative" list were also removed, including Panama, the United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, and Barbados.

The blacklist - the first of its kind for the European Union - was drawn up in December to discourage the most aggressive tax-dodging practices after major disclosures of off-shore schemes, most recently the Paradise Papers.

The move prompted an outcry from lawmakers and activists.

Ministers from the 28 member states met in Brussels and removed eight countries including Korea from the list of tax non-cooperative jurisdictions.

Vladislav Goranov, the finance minister of Bulgaria, the country holding the rotating EU Presidency, said that the initiative proved that "jurisdictions around the world have worked hard to make commitments to reform their tax policies".

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"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", she said.

The European Union drew up the "tax haven blacklist" in response to growing pressure on it to be seen to be doing something about tax evasion, particularly in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008, and has been described by its EU organisers as meant to promote good governance in taxation worldwide.

Vladislav Goranov, finance minister of Bulgaria which holds the rotating European Union presidency, said in a news conference after the meeting that commitments could not be disclosed without the permission of the countries who made them.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici last week accused several European countries including Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus of being tax policy "black holes" and promised to pressure them to change their ways.

Citing an example, he said that under the CBCR framework, if any tax authority outside the UAE seeks information about any entity in the country, it could, subject to exchange of information agreements, directly approach the UAE tax body.

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Bahrain, American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago are the nine countries that remain on the list.

H.E. Al Khoori stressed that the UAE will continue to cooperate with its worldwide partners, including the European Union, to implement global standards for combating tax evasion, avoiding double taxation and exchanging information for tax purposes.

Countries on the grey list can be moved back to the blacklist if they fail to respect their engagements.

The Korean government was stung but made a decision to address the issue.

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