News / Europe

European Leaders Take Steps in Cracking Down on Tax Fraud

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy  in Brussels on May 22, 2013
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels on May 22, 2013
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein
— The European Union has announced a series of measures to crack down on tax avoidance and fraud, including the automatic exchange of bank information to catch cheats.  

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy hailed as "unprecedented" a series of measures against tax evasion agreed to Wednesday by the bloc's 27 leaders during a brief summit in Brussels. Among them: exchanging banking information to catch tax cheats, pushing financial havens like Monaco and Lichtenstein to adopt EU standards, and working to establish global standards for sharing tax information.

This is not the first time European leaders have talked about cracking down on tax fraud.  What is different today, Van Rompuy said during a press conference, is the grim economic climate.

"There is a strong political will by the leaders, not the Europeans but also on a global level, to go forward in attacking tax fraud and tax evasion.  It is a new situation, it is unprecedented, the crisis is unprecedented and the awareness on tackling this issue is unprecedented,"  Van Rompuy said.

As recession forces Europeans to reduce their budgets, public anger is growing against perceived tax dodgers.  Earlier this year, a French finance minister was forced to resign following reports he had put hundreds of thousands of unreported euros into a Swiss bank account.  Multinational companies like Apple, Google and Facebook are also facing criticism about the amount of corporate taxes they pay.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso backed up the anger with numbers.

"This is also about fairness.  Because we estimate 1 trillion euros lost each year to tax evasion and avoidance - the equivalent of a year's health spending across all member states," Barroso said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the tax measures agreed to Wednesday as a breakthrough.

Merkel said it is also important to put tax evasion on the international agenda.  Britain is making it a top issue at next month's G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid