Press Releases

EU agreement fails to deliver on expectations for real corporate tax transparency

Oxfam media reaction

1 June 2021

Today, EU negotiators struck an agreement on the public Country-by-Country Reporting proposal. The deal means companies with operations in the EU will be required to publish information on how much tax they pay in EU countries and non-EU countries that are on the EU’s black or grey list. Information on other non-EU countries will only be available on an aggregated global basis.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:  “This agreement falls short of expectations following the major breakthrough earlier this year when EU governments gave their first green light to tax transparency. The deal fails to force companies to provide real country-by-country reporting as it leaves over three-quarters of countries in the world off the list. Instead, EU legislators have granted multinational corporations plenty of opportunities to continue dodging taxes in secrecy by shifting their profits to tax havens outside the EU, like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland. The deal also leaves poorer countries in the dark by failing to shine a light on the activities of multinationals in their countries.

“The EU legislators gave tax havens and tax-dodging companies a free pass during a time when tax revenues are vitally needed to boost the economy. Most of the world's real tax havens are not on the EU's blacklist and will not be reported on separately. We need everyone to pay their fair share of tax, not least multinational corporations, some of which recorded huge profits during the pandemic.

“The has EU failed to answer demands of citizens, investors, unions and civil society for real corporate tax transparency. Many corporations already do real public country-by-country reporting and the US has a deal on the table. This decision shows the EU is not in step with current global trends, instead it is lagging behind them.”

END 

Contact

Caroline Reid | Communications Manager | caroline.reid@oxfam.org

Notes to editors:  

  • Today, in the third trialogue meeting the representatives from the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the Directive regarding “disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches”. The text must now go through formal approval by adoption in the European Parliament Committees (JURI and ECON), the European Parliament’s plenary, and in the Council. Most agreements reached in trialogue meetings are subsequently adopted without substantial amendments.  
  • The European Commission in 2016 sent a draft text to the European Parliament and Council in the wake of the Luxleaks scandal. The European Parliament passed the file to the Council in July 2017 and the Council agreed on a first compromise text in February 2021. Only the European Parliament’s proposal included disaggregated data at the global level.  

According to Oxfam, the compromise has the following serious weaknesses:  

  1. an obligation for companies to publicly report information on a country-by-country basis only for their operations in EU members states and countries included in the blacklist or greylist (for 2 consecutive years) of the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions;  
  2. a “corporate-get-out-clause” allowing a reporting exemption for “commercially sensitive information” for 5 years; and 
  3. a reporting requirement applied only to companies with an annual consolidated turnover above EUR 750 million. This will exclude 85 - 90 per cent of multinationals. 
  • Transparency for only the 27 EU member states and the 21 currently blacklisted or greylisted jurisdictions means keeping corporate secrecy for over 3 out of 4 of the world’s nearly 200 countries.  
  • 80 civil society organisations, trade unions and networks from across Europe in April, 63 trade unions and CSOs in May, investors representing US$5.6 trillion in assets and 133.000 citizens so far have called for a real public country by country reporting. This includes an obligation for companies to report their profit and tax paid in every country they operate in – not just EU countries and EU-listed tax havens. 
  • Oxfam has highlighted the weaknesses of the EU blacklist and greylist and how it fails to capture real tax havens. Not one of the world’s 15 worst tax havens are on the EU’s list.  
  • With the current compromise, people in low-income countries would not have access to information about multinational companies’ profit made or tax paid in their countries. Moreover, under the OECD system, most tax authorities in low-income countries, unlike in EU countries, do not have access to the confidential country-by-country reports.  
  • The U.S. Congress recently introduced legislation that would require full, public, and global country-by-country reporting. It passed the relevant committee in the House two weeks ago. 
  • The EU already requires public country-by-country reporting covering all countries inside and outside the EU for companies in the financial and extractives sectors. Since January 2021, some multinational companies have voluntarily adopted this reporting through the GRI tax standardOxfamTransparency Internationalresearchers and others have used this information to document and analyse the tax affairs of multinational companies. 
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After the bombing, Gaza struggles to restart power, water, hospitals, markets and fishing for its 2.1m people

400,000 people now without regular water supply

400,000 people in Gaza do not have access to regular water supply after 11 days of bombardment devastated electricity and water services and severely impacted the three main desalination plants in Gaza city, Oxfam warned today.

Oxfam Country Director in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, Shane Stevenson, said: “Every one of the 2.1 million people living in the Gaza Strip has been affected by Israel’s bombing that took 248 lives, destroyed or damaged 258 buildings containing nearly 1,042 homes and commercial offices, and devastated vital public services.”

Around 100,000 Palestinians were displaced by the bombing and are attempting to return home. Even if their homes are still standing, life for them will not be normal.”  

“Gaza is largely dependent upon fuel for its electricity, including to pump clean water from wells into homes. With the disruption in the supply causing a shortage of fuel, hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza will soon have no access to basic hygiene,” Stevenson said

“Electricity cuts and the destruction of office buildings have forced many small businesses to come to a halt. Israel's authorities have stopped the bombing but are now restricting fuel deliveries. They have also closed most of the Gaza fishing zone, meaning nearly 3600 fishermen have now lost their daily income and food.”

“Water is doubly important, during this critical phase of the Coronavirus pandemic, to help people limit the spread of Covid-19. Six hospitals and 11 clinics have also been damaged including the only Covid-19 laboratory in Gaza,” he said.

Gaza and the West Bank have already seen more than 330,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 3,700 people have died due to the virus.

Even before the recent hostilities, the average daily consumption of water was just 88 litres per capita – far below the global minimum requirement of 100 litres. Amal, a mother in Northern Gaza told Oxfam: “We [now] only get four hours of electricity a day, and we don't have a schedule for it. Water might be available for one hour, but we won't have electricity to pump the water to the roof tank. We stay up all night looking for water to fill plastic buckets.”

Oxfam is already working with partners to provide people with immediate lifesaving clean water, hygiene kits and cash to help people buy food and their essentials, and to restore destroyed water systems. The agency aims to reach an additional 282,000 people and needs $3 million to ramp up its humanitarian assistance in Gaza. 

“Meeting people’s immediate humanitarian needs is critical now. But Gaza cannot rebuild without addressing the root causes of the conflict. The cycle of war means any humanitarian effort now could be lost again tomorrow. The international community must ensure concrete political action to bring an end to the occupation and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip,” Stevenson added.

END

For interviews, please contact:

Joanne O’Connor | irl-media@oxfam.org | 083 198 1869

 

Notes to editors 

  • The World Health Organisation has set the minimum requirement for daily per capita water consumption at 100 litres. This amount should cover basic domestic needs such as drinking, bathing, cooking, and washing. In Gaza, average daily per capita consumption is only 88 litres; in Israel, by comparison, it is more than 200. 
  • Figures on impacted hospitals were reported in OCHA Flash Report #9, May 19
  • The Covid lab has now resumed working as per OCHA Flash Report # 11 on May 21st
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Oxfam Reaction to the ceasefire in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

21 May 2021

Shane Stevenson, Oxfam Country Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, said: “Finally, for the first of 12 consecutive nights, two million Palestinians in Gaza, including hundreds of thousands of traumatised children, can rest rather than lie awake in fear as bombs fly over their homes.  And civilians across Israel will be spared the threat of rocket attacks. 

“But this is not a solution. This ceasefire will not change the occupation and denial of human rights which Palestinians are subjected to daily. This inhumane and brutal status quo has to stop, once and for all.

“Oxfam calls on the parties to strictly observe this ceasefire, and for the international community to hold Israel and armed factions in Gaza accountable for any and all violations committed during and preceding this escalation of violence. There must be a just and sustainable peace for all Israelis and Palestinians. Alleged war crimes committed in each round of violence must be investigated and prosecuted.”

Stevenson added: “This must be the last time Palestinians in Gaza are forced to again undertake the slow and painful process of rebuilding their destroyed homes, lives and livelihoods. Humanitarian aid that has been denied from entering Gaza until now must be allowed to enter immediately so that Oxfam and other aid organisations can understand the sheer scale of the needs and reach people who desperately need support to survive.

“Humanitarian agencies like Oxfam have been supported by international governments and donors to work with Palestinians to rebuild after each round of violence, only to watch the results of these collective efforts destroyed time and again. The cycle of war followed by pledges of humanitarian aid can only be broken with concrete and meaningful political action by the international community to bring an end to the brutal, prolonged occupation, including a suffocating siege on the Gaza Strip.” 

ENDS 

For interviews, please contact:

Joanne O’Connor | joanne.oconnor@oxfam.org | 083 198 1869

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Nearly half a million people out of reach in Gaza - Oxfam

18 May 2021

Today, Oxfam said they cannot reach an estimated 450,000 people in Gaza because of the continuing fighting and aerial bombardment. Oxfam staff are trying to resume their humanitarian and livelihood programmes with partners, but the destruction and indiscriminate threat to life make any emergency aid impossible to mount at present. The international agency should be providing food, clean water, sanitation and child protection support but the bombing is making it too dangerous for anyone to leave their homes.

An assessment by Oxfam’s water and sanitation team found that many water wells and pumping stations have been damaged by Israel’s bombardments. These facilities are the only way for people living in Gaza to get clean water and any disruption to them creates immediate distress. Authorities estimate that 40 percent of Gaza water supplies have been affected. People are struggling to secure cash or income to support their basic needs such as food, water, and medicines. Many have been forced to spend their savings or are trying to sell assets to provide for their families. While others, who have lost their homes, have been forced into temporary shelters and, for now, humanitarian actors have not been able to set up systems to properly support them with food, water and sanitation facilities.

Shane Stevenson, Oxfam Country Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, said: “We must remember that Gaza is in the midst of coping with the Covid pandemic too. People need access to water and medicines to halt the spread of the virus, and to hospitals to treat people with severe Covid cases."

As much as 200,000 hectares of agricultural land has been bombed or is otherwise inaccessible to farmers because of the danger of attack. Transport and movement around Gaza is not only unsafe but has been made highly difficult because of the bomb damage to roads and debris from destroyed buildings, with some arterial routes blocked entirely.  Oxfam says that it could take weeks to start meaningful repairs and organise some recovery and resumption of normality for people in Gaza, even if a ceasefire was declared today.

Stevenson continued: “The situation is dreadful but – until the security situation improves enough to properly open up assessments and aid supply lines – things will quickly deteriorate much further. Families are telling us that they are too scared to leave their homes for food and some have already run out of drinking water. The scale of suffering is immense and yet we cannot respond properly. These aerial assaults have taken lives and any sense of safety, but they are also taking away people’s options to cope – to buy food and supplies, and to go about their lives. The people of Gaza are psychologically exhausted, fearful, and exposed. They need peace now in order to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.”

Laila Barhoum, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor in Gaza, said: “When people tell me to ‘stay safe’ during these bombardments, I always think, how exactly? I have no iron dome to protect me, no bomb shelter to take cover in, and no place to flee, because we are pinned in by concrete walls on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea is the fourth."

Oxfam calls for an immediate end to all violence. All parties must comply and adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. The international community must immediately work to put an end to both the current escalation of hostilities and the underlying human rights violations and systemic policies of oppression and discrimination which gave rise to it, including the Israeli occupation itself.  Prior to this new escalation, Oxfam was already responding under a 14-year air, land and sea Israeli blockade rendering the Gaza Strip “unliveable” according to the UN, at a time when eighty percent of Gaza’s two million residents were already in need of humanitarian aid.

Ends

For interviews, please contact:

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org

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Oxfam statement on the escalation of hostilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

14 May 2021

Civilians are once again paying the price for the failures of political leaders to negotiate a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis. Instead, we are witnessing yet another cycle of death and destruction that brings us no closer to addressing the root causes of the crisis and drives further human rights violations, poverty and suffering, particularly for a lost generation of children and young Palestinians.

Laila Barhoum, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor in Gaza, said: “Palestinians in Gaza have endured three successive wars just in the last ten years. We are tired. Day after day we watch the bombs fall on homes where our friends and family live and buildings where our colleagues work, wondering if we will be next. And day after day we wait in vain for the unequivocal condemnation from the international community that never comes. When a ceasefire is eventually declared, we will once again dig out from the rubble and begin to rebuild, only to wait for another cycle of bombardment to destroy what we have done.” 

Oxfam calls for an immediate end to all violence. All parties must comply and adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality in the use of force. The international community must immediately work to put an end to both the current escalation of hostilities and the underlying human rights violations and systemic policies of oppression and discrimination which gave rise to it, including the occupation.

Even before violence erupted, families in Gaza were preoccupied with daily survival as they observed the holy month of Ramadan in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and a 14-year blockade. Today, they are celebrating Eid under the shadow of ongoing aerial bombardment that has killed 110 Palestinians – including 29 children and 14 women – and injuring 620. Should the violence continue, many innocent civilians in Gaza will lose their lives; and thousands more will have their lives endangered by an economic and public services shutdown. Seven Israelis have died from rocket attacks – including two children – and 107 have been injured. Communities across Israel are living in fear of indiscriminate rockets, while alarming inter-communal violence is growing across several cities in Israel.

Palestinian citizens of Israel who have taken to the streets to protest the Israeli government’s systemic policies of discrimination against Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel have been met with the same excessive force that was used against demonstrators in Jerusalem.

This escalation must not overshadow the underlying causes of the violence, but instead compel a renewed focus on addressing them. The violations the world is witnessing are the direct result of weeks of brutality and excessive force by Israeli settlers and police against Palestinian worshippers, medical staff and demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem as well as efforts to forcibly transfer residents of Sheikh Jarrah from their homes. They are also the result of years of impunity for Israeli human rights violations and a lack of international pressure on Israel to fulfil its international legal obligations as the occupying power to protect all civilians under its control. 

Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territory face daily and systemic oppression and discrimination as a matter of Israeli state policy. They are denied their basic rights to freedom of movement, freedom of worship, and freedom to assemble and express themselves peacefully. People in Gaza are trapped under siege with nowhere to flee for safety. In East Jerusalem and across many parts of the West Bank, they are at daily risk of being forcibly displaced from their homes, as part of a state-sponsored effort in support of settler organizations who seek to drive Palestinians off their land. These are all clear violations of International Law. 

Words matter, but they are not enough. The international community has a duty to condemn all human rights and international law violations swiftly and unequivocally, wherever and whenever they occur. Governments must take bold action to end the impunity and hold those who violate international law to account. Their lack of political courage directly enables the escalating series of retaliations that puts civilians in the firing line of indiscriminate rockets and military airstrikes.  

Barhoum continued: “When people tell me to ‘stay safe’ during these bombardments, I always think, how exactly? I have no iron dome to protect me, no bomb shelter to take cover in, and no place to flee, because we are pinned in by concrete walls on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea is the fourth. This is the reality we need the world to understand, so we can stop applying a double standard when it comes to condemning the killing of our people and protecting our human rights."

It is long past time to break the cycle of war followed by truces and pledges of humanitarian aid that only represent bandages on deep wounds and, instead, to genuinely tackle the root causes of injustice and violence that is being perpetrated under the occupation.

END

Oxfam has in-country staff available for interview, contact Caroline Reid at Oxfam Ireland to arrange.

Note to editors:  

 Since the outbreak of violence in Gaza on Monday 10 May (as per today Thursday 14th May, 11:00 CET):  

  • 110 Palestinians killed including 29 children and 14 women, and 620 injured.
  • 107 Israelis injured
  • 110 Palestinians killed across Gaza by Israeli airstrikes and shelling, including 29 children, 14 women, and 620 wounded including 115 children  
  • 7 killed in Israel by rockets launched from Gaza, including 2 children and 107 wounded  
  • 1,160 rockets and mortar shells launched at Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza, around 240 of these landed in the sea or in the Gaza Strip 
  • Hundreds of military airstrikes by Israel targeting locations across the Gaza Strip 
  • 483 Palestinians across cities in the West Bank were hospitalised following confrontations with the Israeli army overnight late Wednesday
  • 374 people were arrested during confrontations across various cities inside of Israel and East Jerusalem overnight late Wednesday 
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