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EP committee finds Hungary shows traits of tax haven

Hungary is among seven European Union countries that “display traits of a tax haven and facilitate aggressive tax planning,” according to a finding by the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3), as reported widely in the European media.

Illustration: Gunnar Pippel/Shutterstock.com

The finding was among the conclusions in a package of recommendations approved by MEPs on Tuesday after a one-year inquiry. The other six countries are Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, and the Netherlands.

The recommendations in the package, adopted by 505 votes in favour, 63 against and 87 abstentions, include starting work on a proposal for a European financial police force and an EU financial intelligence unit, as well as the establishment of an EU anti-money laundering watchdog.

The committee found that there is a lack of political will in member states to tackle tax evasion, tax avoidance and financial crime, according to reports.

Another recommendation says that whistleblowers and investigative journalists must be much better protected, and an EU fund to help investigative journalists should be set up.

“Member states are not doing enough and in the EU, the Council is clearly the weakest link,” said the chair of the special committee, Petr Ježek (ALDE, CZ).  “Without political will, there can be no progress. Europeans deserve better.”

Following continued revelations over the last five years (including the Panama Papers and Paradise papers), the European Parliament decided to establish the TAX3 committee on March 1, 2018. The report concludes the committee’s year-long mandate, which saw it hold 18 hearings dealing with particular topics of interest, 10 exchanges of views with finance ministers and European Commissioners, and four fact-finding missions.