In June 2015, the European Commission (EC) published a list of 30 jurisdictions classified as 'non-cooperative' for tax purposes. The EC named any jurisdiction that was, at the time of publication, blacklisted as a tax haven by at least 10 EU member states.
The list included Hong Kong on the basis that it was blacklisted by Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Spain. However, this was incorrect: Spain removed Hong Kong from its blacklist in 2013, following the signing of a double tax agreement (DTA) between the two jurisdictions in 2011. In addition, Estonia no longer publishes a blacklist on the EC's website.
Since Hong Kong is not blacklisted by 10 EU member states, it should not have featured on the EC list. The EC has acknowledged the error and, on 12 October, published a revised list without Hong Kong.
A spokesman for the Hong Kong government said, 'We will continue our dialogue with the EU and its member states to keep them abreast of our long-standing commitments and efforts on tax cooperation.' Hong Kong has signed 13 DTAs and two tax information exchange agreements with EU member states. It is negotiating agreements with a further five. Following these developments, it is expected that Hong Kong will be removed from other blacklists and its status of tax cooperation will be established further in the EU and internationally.
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