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Aruba, Barbados, and Bermuda Removed from the EU Blacklist

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May 17, 2019

The Economic & Financial Affairs Council in Brussels recently removed Aruba, Barbados, and Bermuda from the European Union's list of noncooperative tax jurisdictions. Earlier this year, the so-called blacklist document identified 15 countries for failing to meet agreed tax good governance standards. Adopted in 2017, the first blacklist identified 17 countries considered to be tax havens operating outside of the European Union. The list was subsequently revised in March, following an in-depth review by the European Council of the implementation of the commitments taken by third country jurisdictions that are part of the process.

The European Council said in a statement:

Barbados has made commitments at a high political level to remedy EU concerns regarding the replacement of its harmful preferential regimes by a measure of similar effect, whilst Aruba and Bermuda have now implemented their commitments. At the same time, Bermuda remains committed to address EU concerns in the area of collective investment funds. As a consequence, Barbados and Bermuda will be moved from annex I of the conclusions to annex II, which includes jurisdictions that have undertaken sufficient commitments to reform their tax policies, while Aruba will be removed entirely from both Annexes.

As a result of the European Council’s actions, 12 jurisdictions remain on the list of noncooperative jurisdictions: American Samoa, Belize, Dominica, Fiji, Guam, Marshall Islands, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, US Virgin Islands, and Vanuatu.

The European Council said it will regularly review and update the list throughout 2019.

Bermuda Responds

According to an earlier article appearing March 13 in the Royal Gazette, Scott Neil wrote that "[a] slight typographical error, and pushing up close to the edge of a deadline, are factors that led to Bermuda being put on a European Union list of noncooperative tax jurisdictions."

Kathleen Bibbings, president of the Bermuda Insurance Management Association, said, "The decision today by the European Union [recognizes] Bermuda's commitment to full compliance and tax transparency."

Stephen Weinstein, deputy chair of the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), commented on the matter, "Our jurisdiction's updated regulatory and legislative framework mirrors existing practices in our international business market, exemplifying the highest standards of compliance and economic substance. It's important that markets worldwide have access to Bermuda's leading expertise and capacity."

"Today's decision is the right one, and we welcome it as a testament to the top-tier reputation we've worked hard to build over many decades," added BDA CEO Roland Andy Burrows.

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