The EU list of tax havens: progress and challenges
European Centre for Development Policy Management (
Following the release of the Panama papers in 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has now published the Pandora papers. The latter reveals how some of the world’s powerful elite continue to channel wealth to offshore tax havens, not only avoiding taxes but also engaging in financial crimes especially money laundering (ICIJ 2021). The Pandora evidence comes almost a year into 2021-2030, a crucial and determinant decade of whether countries will attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its associated socio-economic crisis have threatened the potential of developing countries to realise sustainable economic transformation. COVID-19 recovery processes also reveal a great divide between the richest and poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is expected to experience the slowest growth rate in about two decades whereas advanced economies are projected to grow at the highest rate in almost 5 decades (Gill and Nishio 2021). The African private sector has also been greatly exposed to this great recession yet African governments are unable to offer economic stimuli to protect millions of jobs offered by the private sector (Bilal et al. 2020). Indeed, developed countries possess a great financial backbone to ‘build back better’ while developing countries are facing serious fiscal constraints, which have threatened their achievements before the pandemic (Furceri et al. 2021; Furceri et al. 2021a; Agrawal et al. 2021). Despite the broad regional inequalities, many large multinational corporations have been able to make significant profits.1 From March 18 to December 31, the wealth of billionaires increased by US$3.9 trillion as the masses battled with job losses, business failures, and vaccine shortages (Oxfam 2021). Such a paradox rekindles debates on global tax governance and creates a need for the well off to pay their fair share of taxes and contribute to sustainable development. International organisations such as the United Nations (UN), World Bank Group (WBG), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have stressed the vital role of governments in creating effective tax systems to this end (World Bank 2018). The UN has also established a sustainable tax framework to promote good tax governance and transparency among businesses and organisations.2 The fight against unfair tax practices has also attracted increasing global attention leading to several evaluation listings, including the OECD list of uncooperative tax havens, European Union (EU) list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions (EU list of tax havens) among others.