Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have approved the recommendations made by the European Parliament's special committee on tax avoidance and evasion, calling for open registers of beneficial owners, effective protections for whistleblowers, and new rules for intermediaries.
On December 13, MEPs approved the recommendations made by Parliament's Special Inquiry Committee into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance, and Evasion (PANA), by 492 votes to 50 with 136 abstentions. The committee was set up in June 2015 in the wake of the publication of the so-called Panama Papers.
According to the text adopted by MEPs, the Panama Papers "have shaken citizens' trust in our financial and tax systems." MEPs stressed that it is now crucial "to restore public confidence and ensure fair and transparent tax systems and tax and social justice."
The text called upon the EU and its member states to "properly implement and reinforce their legal tools to shift from secrecy to transparency, mutual cooperation, and exchange of information, and to counter money laundering more effectively."
Among the recommendations made by the PANA committee and endorsed by MEPs were:
A major, separate recommendation made by MEPs was for a change in how EU member states decide upon tax policy. Currently, there must be unanimity among member states, but MEPs want to see that replaced by qualified majority voting in the European Council. A qualified majority needs 55 percent of member states, representing at least 65 percent of the EU's population.
Co-rapporteur Petr Jezek said: "The PANA committee investigations built on the journalists' revelations [in the Panama Papers] with the aim of keeping up momentum, scrutinizing relevant EU legislation and its implementation, and coming up with credible recommendations on how to tackle money laundering, tax avoidance, and tax evasion."
"Today, we have reached these goals. In the coming months, it will be crucial to maintain pressure as regards implementation of the recommendations and additional pressure on those governments which are still not fighting the good fight."
The report and recommendations of the PANA committee will now be passed to the European Council and Commission for their consideration.
Hungary and Kyrgystan have begun DTA negotiations, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on February 28, 2018.
Morocco and Cape Verde will begin DTA negotiations in March 2018, Morocco's Tax Agency announced.
The DTA signed between Mexico and Saudi Arabia entered into force on March 1, 2018, following the publication in Mexico's official Gazette of a law ratifying the agreement on February 26, 2018.
Bangladesh and Morocco signed a DTA on March 1, 2018.
Meeting over two days ending February 28, 2018, representatives from Pakistan and the Philippines agreed to renegotiate their DTA.
The UK and Mauritius signed a DTA on February 28, 2018.
Singapore signed a DTA with Tunisia on February 27, 2018.
Bahrain's King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has approved a law ratifying the DTA Protocol signed with the Philippines, state media reported on February 20, 2018.
The Luxembourg Government on February 23, 2018, reported it is pushing for the negotiation of an amended DTA with Oman.
According to a monthly update from the Mexican Government, Mexico's DTA with Jamaica entered into force on February 24, 2018.
According to preliminary media reports, Switzerland's upper house of parliament of February 26, 2018, approved laws to ratify the DTAs signed with Kosovo and Pakistan and a Protocol with Latvia.
The Luxembourg Government announced that it is engaged in DTA negotiations with 15 countries, in a January 29, 2018, update, including newly DTA negotiations with the UK.
Ireland and Ghana signed a DTA on February 7, 2018.
According to a statement from the President's office, Iran's Cabinet on February 18, 2018, approved the signing of DTAs with Sweden, Lithuania, and Japan.
On February 19, 2018, the Philippines Senate adopted three resolutions ratifying agreements for the avoidance of double taxation with Mexico, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.
Japan and Spain have agreed a DTA in principle, to replace their existing pact, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced February 21, 2018.
The Armenian Ministry of Finance said February 22, 2018, that a DTA had been initialed after four days of negotiations with Iraq.
India's Ministry of Finance on February 22, 2018, revealed that an updated DTA between India and Kenya had been published in the Official Gazette, to replace the agreement in place between the two countries since 1985.
South Africa's DTA Protocol with Brazil entered into force on February 10, 2018.
Moldova's Cabinet on January 31, 2018, approved a law to ratify the DTA signed with Georgia in November 2017.
According to preliminary media reports, Kazakhstan's Senate on February 15, 2018, approved a law to ratify a Protocol to the DTA with Azerbaijan.
Poland published an order in its Official Gazette on February 8, 2018, to bring the DTA signed with Ethiopia in 2015 into force. The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2018.
Paraguay's Government on February 11, 2018, announced the signing of a DTA with Qatar.
Guernsey's TIEA with Portugal will enter into force March 15, 2018, according to a February 20, 2018, update from the Guernsey Government.
The Botswana Government has announced that the country will sign a DTA Protocol with Zimbabwe by the end of the year.