European Commission’s Tax Transparency Package keeps tax deals secret

March 18th, 2015


Campaigners disappointed with unambitious package but European Commission has second chance to deliver in June


The European Commission’s new measures to combat secret tax deals made between multinational companies and governments cannot be called tax transparency, as they fail to give citizens access to any information. 

The Tax Transparency Package, published today in response to the Luxembourg Leaks scandal, makes some improvements to the information that tax administrations receive, but keeps tax rulings confidential, denying proper public scrutiny of governments’ tax administrations and large companies. 

Tove Ryding, Head of Tax Justice at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), said: “This is not tax transparency or tax justice. The veil of secrecy remains in place.”

Twenty-two EU member states currently offer tax rulings – also known as “comfort letters” – to multinational enterprises. These agreements have been abused to offer “sweetheart deals” to companies, which is why the public needs access to this information 

The lack of public information also means that tax administrations in developing countries cannot identify corporate tax dodgers. 

“Though this tax transparency package is supposed to be a response to the Luxembourg Leaks, it’s only addressing a fraction of the problem,” said Koen Roovers, EU Advocate for the Financial Transparency Coalition. “Over 150 companies in the leak were associated with the United States, but they will simply be out of bounds under this proposal.”

“If all EU tax rulings were made public, companies would have a harder time negotiating the types of tax deals that don’t stand up to public scrutiny,” Roovers added.

Public tax rulings and country by country reporting – which would mean that multinational corporations would have to publish where they run their businesses and where they pay their taxes – would have delivered tax transparency.

Tove Ryding added: “The European Commission has the chance to make a real difference in June, when it releases its Corporate Tax Package. We hope that the baby steps taken in this package will turn into strides for real change in the summer.”


For further information, or to request an interview, please contact: 

Christian Freymeyer, Press & Digital Media Coordinator, Financial Transparency Coalition at: or +1.410.490.6850

Notes to Editors:

  • The Tax Transparency Package is the first of a set of measures which will be followed up by a Corporate Tax Package in June. This will be implemented from the summer onwards, under the new Luxembourg presidency.


Written by Financial Transparency Coalition

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