“Hear my roar”
EU warns Iran on nuclear fuel programme, backs inspections
Dnipropetrovsk,keyfor Ukraine-EU ties
presentation of the Dnipropetrovsk region will beheld in Brussels on June 26. Last November, theinternational conference "Agenda 2004: Europeanintegration of Ukraine" provoked certain Europeanpublic interest and we have an opportunity to contin-ue talks at a new level, which is more objective andopen as it should be between good neighbours,Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration headMykola Shvets said.This approach fully corresponds to the Ukrainianvision of implementation of the concept "Wider Europe- Neighbourhood" outlined Ukrainian PresidentLeonid Kuchma, in his recent speech at the Eurocon-ference in Athens. He emphasised its great importancefor extension of a stable area of wealth, Shvets said."Declaring today that Dnipropetrovsk region isopenforcooperationwiththeworldwecanconfidently statethatitisoneofthemostpowerfulregionsof Ukrainewhichisattractiveforinvestorsfromeconom-icpointofview,"hesaid,addingthattheregionisrichinresourcesandhasadvancedspacetechnology.
Denmark is revealed to be behind Obama’s new Drone policy |
AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand
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A decade ago, EU leaders got tough with Iran,over their nuclear programme and demanded co-operation, transparency, inspections and so on.The International Atomic Energy Authority gently reminded that the allegations of a secret weaponsprogramme were, so far, only allegations. The issuestill rumbles on today. We were raising the issue of financial accountabil-ity of the EU and the Eurozone had good news -remember that far back - as imports were down,exports up and there was a trade surplus of €3 bil-lion. This was down, by €1.6 billion on the previ-ous year, but, who was complaining?But there was talk of the Euro surpassing the Dol-lar, so something was different a decade ago.
n e 1 0 Y e A R S A GO
The European Union is clamping down on tax fraud; evasion, ha- vens, “aggressive tax planning” and the like. It is all dependent, of course; dependent on finalising an agreement with Switzerlandand others outside the EU, dependent on Luxembourg openingup its secretive banking system, and dependent on the G8 andG20, without them they can be no global standard, a prized goalof European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso.It makes sense for the EU to go after tax evaders; corporate cheatsare perhaps the only class of people deemed lower than Europe-an politicians right now. However, despite optimism and stateddetermination to clamp down on tax fraud, when leaders met inBrussels on 22 May, somewhat unsurprisingly nothing concrete was decided, just a vague promise to have it all worked out by theend of the year.It is estimated that around €1 trillion of public money is lost toEurope each year. According to a newly published report by de- velopment NGO Oxfam there currently exists about €14 trillionstashed in tax havens worldwide, enough for twice the requiredmoney needed to lift every person above the level of “extremepoverty,” those living on less than $1.25 a day. About two-thirds of this offshore wealth (€9.5 trillion) is hiddenin EU-related tax havens, such as Luxembourg (already, like Cy-prus, under the watchful eye of the US) and Malta. The UK, withtax havens in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and elsewhere,accounts for half the European share. Countries like Andorra,Lichtenstein and Switzerland continue to facilitate tax evasion(although they are moving to eradicate this through a new deal with the EU). Ireland has been identified by the US Congress asa country that aids corporate tax fraud. The Netherlands is alsounder suspicion.The financial crisis has not shown-up the best qualities of Euro-pean leaders. For too long there has been the mantra that publicspending cuts are the only thing that will get Europe out of reces-sion. Now, as the crisis drags on, and with European Parliamentelections a year away, the argument has shifted towards growthpolicies. Even long-term commission holdouts have softenedtheir position on austerity. EU Budget Commissioner, Janusz Le- wandowski has also weighed-in on the debate. Tax fraud, though,had always been off the table, but recent high-profile cases, suchas those involving Apple and Starbucks, have forced the issuesomewhat. There is momentum; both in Europe and the US, andthat momentum should not be lost.The slow response to the issue of tax fraud has proved to be afailure of policy and a moral scandal. Speaking at the EuropeanParliament on 21 May, Barroso was adamant that a deal could bereached, at least on information exchange. But more is needed; acommon definition of tax havens, a blacklist, a re-write of exist-ing transnational banking agreements that facilitate evasion, morestringent transparency rules for corporate accounting.So far, the will has been weak. But with the poor and hungry get-ting restless, all the while wondering what to do with their anger,and with a political class under pressure (fearing the polls, the voter response), something good may just come about, however belatedly. There is no time to stall further.
A taxing issue