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.
The United Arab Emirates Cabinet on January 7, 2018, approved two double tax agreements concluded with Moldova and Croatia.
Taiwanese Premier Lai Ching-Te has directed the Ministry of Finance to work towards a Taiwan-US tax treaty.
Cyprus and Saudi Arabia signed a DTA on January 3, 2018.
According to preliminary media reports, Colombia and Japan are negotiating a DTA.
Georgia and Moldova signed a DTA on November 29, 2017.
Luxembourg and Kosovo signed a DTA on December 8, 2017.
Switzerland and the United Kingdom signed a DTA Protocol on November 30, 2017.
According to an update from the Liechtenstein Government, the new DTA with the United Arab Emirates will become effective from January 1, 2018.
According to preliminary media reports, the Netherlands and Liechtenstein held a first round of DTA negotiations over three days ending November 17, 2017.
Saudi Arabia's Cabinet on November 28, 2017, authorized the signing of a DTA with Bulgaria.
Bahrain's Cabinet has approved the signing of a new DTA with Hong Kong, the state news agency said November 13, 2017.
Hong Kong announced on November 24, 2017, that its DTAs with Pakistan and Latvia had entered into force.
Finland on November 2, 2017, confirmed that a new DTA signed with Germany will be effective from January 1, 2018.
The DTA between Cyprus and Iran will become effective from January 1, 2018.
India ratified a third Protocol to its DTA with New Zealand on November 2, 2017, publishing a Notice in its Official Gazette.
Gibraltar and the United Kingdom are considering launching negotiations towards a DTA, according to recent comments from the UK's Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
Barbados and Italy have exchanged instruments of ratification in respect of a DTA, which will now become effective from January 1, 2018.
Switzerland's Government on October 25, 2017, adopted a dispatch on the DTA concluded with Pakistan, enabling its ratification.
Spain and Portugal signed a DTA on October 18, 2017.
Pakistan and Latvia initialed a DTA on October 25, 2017.
Spain and Romania signed a DTA on October 18, 2017.
Denmark and Japan signed a DTA Protocol on October 11, 2017.
The Bahamas and Finland signed a Protocol to amend their TIEA on October 19, 2017.
The Dutch lower house of parliament on October 24, 2017, approved the ratification of a DTA signed with Zambia.
Cyprus and Mauritius signed a DTA Protocol on October 23, 2017.