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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid