Giving with one hand and taking with the other - Europe's role in tax-related capital flight from developing countries

Added 16 Dec 2013
Tax-related capital flight is a major problem the world over, particularly for the poorest people, who are unfairly losing billions of euros every year as a result of this practice. In Europe, the loss of income caused by tax evasion and avoidance is estimated to be around €1 trillion per year. When it comes to the world’s developing countries, conservative estimates report that these countries lose between €660 and €870 billion each year through illicit financial flows, mainly in the form of tax evasion by multinational corporations.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) in 13 European countries have come together to produce this report – the first of three over the next three years. In the report, the CSOs examine the tax-related capital flight policies in their respective countries; the actions taken by their national governments to tackle money laundering and tax avoidance and evasion; and attitudes towards EU laws that could help solve the problem. They highlight the efforts, and the shortcomings, of European leaders on this issue, and propose ways forward.

The report finds that there is a significant discrepancy between tough political rhetoric from the governments surveyed and their actions. This is having a particularly damaging impact on developing countries. Specifically, this report finds that:
  • All governments surveyed are failing to demand sufficient levels of tax transparency from companies as no government has implemented full country-by-country financial reporting requirements for multi-national companies.
  • The majority of governments surveyed are reluctant to establish public access to information on the beneficial owners of companies, trusts or foundations in their jurisdictions.
  • Data to monitor the information that governments are exchanging with each other on tax matters is rarely publicly accessible. And findings from this report indicate that countries from the global south are barely participating in this form of information exchange.
  • None of the governments surveyed support the equal inclusion of developing countries in policy making in this area in practice. All the governments surveyed support the European Union (EU) position, which is that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) should be the leading decision-making forum. This is despite concerns about the OECD’s legitimacy for this task and the lack of decision-making power in this area for governments in the global south.
To download the full report click here. 

To download a summary document click here