24 May 2013

EU to tackle tax evasion

9:00 am on 24 May 2013

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed to begin work next month on introducing an automatic exchange of tax information to reduce tax avoidance.

At the moment legal loopholes allow big companies or individuals to pay lower taxes, by paying them in a different country to the one in which they are based.

After summit talks in Brussels, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said there was a "strong political will" in Europe to make tax systems fairer.

He said the EU would draft tougher rules this year on banking transparency.

The BBC reports a key goal is to prevent multinational firms exploiting legal loopholes. Tax evasion and avoidance cost European states one trillion euros per year.

Mr Van Rompuy said the economic crisis had injected new momentum into the debate on fair taxation. But he insisted that the EU was not seeking tax harmonisation across Europe.

The issue will be on the agenda of a summit of G8 nations in Northern Ireland next month.

The European Parliament on Tuesday called for a blacklist of tax havens.