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EU gets tough on tax dodging, thanks to you

20 June 2013 | by Helen Collinson 

Campaign success can be a bit like buses; none for a while and then it comes in threes - this time, on the problem of tax dodging.

We've had commitments from world leaders at the G8 and a promise from the Government to tackle secrecy in UK tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

Another success, which didn’t make news headlines, is equally critical to securing tax justice for the world’s poorest people.  

New laws, less secrecy

Flags outside the European Parliament -- Pic: Franky DeMeyer A few months ago, EU leaders agreed to provisional laws making European oil, gas and mining companies more transparent

In June, the European Parliament voted in favour of the laws so now they’re official.

All oil, gas, mining and logging companies will therefore have to publish their payments to governments in the countries where they operate on projects worth €100,000 or more - including the taxes they pay.

Success is down to you

UK politicians have told us that pressure from campaigners helped persuade EU governments to resist strong corporate lobbying designed to water down these laws. You, our campaigners, can be very proud of these achievements.

Although these laws don’t go as far as we would have wanted, they are a key step towards making companies more transparent about their operations in developing countries.

Secrecy in the oil, gas and mining sector has fuelled high levels of corruption and is one of the reasons why many resource-rich countries in Africa and elsewhere are racked with extreme poverty and inequality, in spite of their wealth.

The next steps

The chance to get stronger EU laws may be with us sooner than we thought.

The EU is now exploring opportunities for getting all large companies to disclose information such as profits and employees in every country as well as payments to governments. This would be a huge help to all countries, but especially developing countries trying to detect tax dodging.

The EU is also discussing regulations for greater transparency on who owns which trusts and shell companies in tax havens.
Now we need EU leaders to deliver on these discussions and ensure that developing countries benefit from whatever measures are agreed.

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 About the author

Helen Collinson

Helen Collinson is Christian Aid's senior public advocacy adviser