Belgium and six other European countries “display traits of a tax haven and facilitate aggressive tax planning,” the European Parliament noted on Wednesday in a report by its Special Commission on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Fraud. In an immediate reaction to the finding, Socialistische Partij Anders (sp.a) europarliamentarian Kathleen Van Brempt accused Belgium’s government of “actively ensuring that multinationals do not pay their fair share” of taxes.
Following the revelations of Lux Leaks, the Panama Papers, the Football Leaks and the Paradise Papers, the European Parliament had decided in March 2018 to create a special commission on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax fraud. On Wednesday, after 12 months of work, it adopted its final report by 34 votes for, 4 against and 3 abstentions.
It found that seven European countries had certain characteristics of tax havens: Belgium, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands.
Belgium is on the list because “a lot of money is circulating in the country through companies that employ practically no-one, which shows that it is being used by multinationals that do aggressive fiscal planning,” Van Brempt said.
Such practices are encouraged by the Government, which ensures that big companies that repatriate their money to Belgium enjoy a favourable tax regime enabling them to benefit from a maximum of tax exemptions, she added.
In its report, the Commission called for the fight against tax offenses to be stepped up. Co-rapporteur Jeppe Kofod stressed the need for tougher rules in the EU, severe penalties against banks that facilitate financial crimes and a new European financial police within Europol.
The report will be put to a vote at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament in March.