The EU should have taken note: tax haven lists don’t work, but the Financial Secrecy Index does

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I am well aware that many of my critics like to say I know little about anything. Unsurprisingly I don't agree. What I do know is that I very definitely know something about tax havens. My book on the subject with Ronen Palan and Christian Chavagneux is in academic publishing terms a best seller.

And there is something I could have told the EU before it published a list of tax havens, which is that this is a futile exercise.

The list is glaringly obviously incomplete: Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, Cyprus, the UK and Belgium are not on it.

Nor are Jersey, Mauritius, the Isle of Man and maybe Delaware.

That makes it useless because no one thinks it is definitive but is instead a political sop.

And as a result some of those on there, such as Guernsey, are making a lot of noise about the injustice of being so.

I suppose that creates media attention for a day or so, but after that, so what? The world has not changed when we need it to move on.

If the EU had wanted to make a move it should have defined tax havens as secrecy jurisdictions, which long ago I defined  as places that intentionally create regulation for the primary benefit and use of those not resident in their geographical domain with that regulation being designed to undermine the legislation or regulation of another jurisdiction and with the secrecy jurisdictions also creating a deliberate, legally backed veil of secrecy that ensures that those from outside the jurisdiction making use of its regulation cannot be identified to be doing so.

And then it should have used the only credible listing of such places that there is, which is the Tax Justice Network Financial Secrecy Index.

That would have made sense because a rational basis for discussion on needed from to break the secrecy that this index address and which is the EU's concern would have existed. But what has happened does not make sense, at all because there is no rational logic to it, and that helps no one.