The Brief, sponsored by Eni – Paradise papers will help Juncker clean up his legacy

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This weekend’s massive leak from an offshore law firm implicating businesses, celebrities and top politicians in a global tax evasion scandal was further confirmation – if we needed it – that tax is not fair.

But it just might provide the impetus the EU needs to finalise an effective tax havens blacklist and end tax competition between EU member states. Jean-Claude Juncker’s legacy largely depends on it.

Since the Luxleaks scandal broke three years ago, followed by the Panama Papers last year, pressure has been growing on the EU for a strong response. And it appears to be working: proposals for new transparency requirements, country-by-country reporting and measures to block artificial tax arrangements are being discussed and could enter into force in 2019.

This is undoubtedly a good thing but we should be under no illusion: the Commission did not propose legislation because it found out about these practices. It did so because we found out.

As the former leader of a country that generated a large part of its GDP by undercutting the tax regimes of its friends and neighbours, Juncker can hardly pretend otherwise.

But the important thing now is that the EU is going above the member states to act on this.

The latest leak, which implicated political personalities including Donal Trump’s advisors, the man behind Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Lord Ashcroft, and even Queen Elizabeth II, has made it crystal clear that tax evasion by the globally mobile wealthy elites will never be tackled at a national level. Hence the need for the EU to put its own house in order.

But new EU rules will also be a chance to dictate standards beyond the bloc’s borders. Europe must insist that third countries play by those rules or take a hike.

Looking ahead to 2019, this will include the UK and its shady web of tax havens dotted around the world, from the Channel Islands to the Cayman Islands.

We cannot afford another whitewash blacklist like the one compiled by the OECD.

So when EU finance ministers revive the issue of the tax havens blacklist at a meeting tomorrow, they must spare no blushes and make sure it applies to everyone, whether friend or foe.


Cleaning up transport is the next big challenge for the EU, with a broad strategy coming up in a matter of days. Join us to discuss how we should be gearing up to decarbonize transport, on November 14th. Of course, at our flagship event Eni After 6.

The Roundup

Bulgaria’s vote of no-confidence could oust the government just weeks before its turn to hold the EU presidency. The vote may not pass, but the government hardly needs a focus on corruption while under the international spotlight.

German/Polish spat continues, as Polish PM demands clarifications for “unacceptable words” of German foreign minister, who edged on the “democratic resistance” of Polish youth. Warsaw didn’t like it.

A study on EU enlargement says only Macedonia could meet the criteria by 2023. Serbia and Turkey could take a decade longer – something neither country is happy to hear.

Is Kazakhstan in Europe? Geographically- but also politically- the country is in a space distinct from the Old Continent and Asia, yet drawing from both.

In the Far East, China’s “quality over speed” new paradigm offers new opportunities to the EU, writes the Chinese ambassador to the EU.

“The second toughest job in the world”- documentarist Annalisa Piras followed EU high representative Federica Mogherini for a year. Read our interview on the film ‘Europe at sea’.

Every other person will be malnourished by 2030 – whether it’s hunger or obesity, half the world will be eating poorly, says the UN’s food and agriculture organisation.

EU farmers say that deadlock in glyphosate negotiations show mistrust in EU bodies– and call for a full reauthorisation. A majority of countries want it, but agricultural heavyweight France opposes it. And the Commission is stuck in the middle.

Russian nuclear power giant Rosatom looks at solar and wind energy in an effort to diversify its energy portfolio.

Electric cars are a thing for the rich, car manufacturers say – countries’ scheme to boost e-car ownership cost a lot, and only wealthy countries can afford them.

As the Commission prepares to vote on rules for offshore gas providers, Danila Bochkarev warns that any regulatory review will bring instability and should be approached cautiously.

COP23 started this morning. EURACTIV’s partner the Guardian explains why it matters.

Lobbying is by definition non-transparent. Any attempt to shed light on it should not be limited to lobbyists’ direct contacts with EU decision makers. Otherwise, it will be like lighting a match in the dark, writes Vicky Cann.

Look out for…

The EU Court of Auditors will present its annual report on EU budget management during an Economic & Financial Affairs Council. Look out for scolding.

Views are the author’s

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