They have pledged unspecified sanctions but pressure to make an example of a jurisdiction has been growing since documents stolen from offshore law firm Appleby, showing the scale of offshore tax avoidance, were publicised.
The biggest meeting late last week came when the chief ministers of Guernsey and Jersey visited Brussels to meet tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici; ambassadors to the EU of Austria, Germany, Malta, UK and Portugal; and three members of the European Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee.
Speaking after the visit, the chief minister of Jersey, senator Ian Gorst, described the talks as “frank and honest”.
“In January 2016, commissioner Moscovici described the Channel Islands as cooperative partners of the EU. We believe that our actions since then, and recognition by international bodies including the OECD, have further validated that description,” he said.
Chief minister of Guernsey, deputy Gavin St Pier, said: “We are good and cooperative neighbours of the EU who make a positive contribution to the European economy. We can only make sure that message is heard by being here and engaging directly.”
The meetings focused on the continued commitment of the Channel Islands to meet EU standards on matters of tax transparency and “economic substance”.
Both islands underlined their cooperation with the ongoing screening process being undertaken by the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation, and their submissions to the Code of Conduct Group as part of that exercise.
Cayman and Bermudan pleas
Cayman premier Alden McLaughlin met with EU chiefs in September and reportedly returned again this week to plead the island’s case.
“Cayman has consistently engaged on tax matters with EU officials through correspondence and responses to their questions, as well as face-to-face meetings in April 2016 and February 2017,” the Premier said.
“Our objective is to assist EU ministers of finance in their understanding of Cayman’s compliance efforts.”
Bermuda premier John Burt is expected to back up a trip to London for the Bermuda Forum with visits to Paris and Berlin to meet tax officials later this week.