1508 - 1507 Antenna France: Taxation to Help Development and Climate

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Three Converging Agenda


It is the middle of 2015and here in our planetary village we note five worrying statistics on the increase:

  • The average temperature of the world is rising;
  • The water in the seas and oceans is rising;
  • The world’s population is increasing;
  • The number of migrants, refugees and displaced people is exploding;
  • Inequalities are increasing (Reminder: 84 people between them own as much as half the inhabitants of the planet!)


In the second half of this year, three major meeting will take place in an attempt to counter these trends. They are being arranged by the UN, an organisation that brings together all the nations of the world.


The last one, COP 21, the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will meet in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015, will take note of the commitments that each country will sign up to in the fight against change climate.


Three months earlier, in New York in September, the General Assembly of the United Nations will ratify the programme for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will take over from the Millennium Development Goals and which will involve all actors/stakeholders.


In mid-July at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, world leaders will have to put in place the way of financing this ambitious yet indispensable set of projects on which depends the future of the planet and those who inhabit it.


Where should the money come from?


There is no shortage of money today: there has never been as much in the world. It circulates at the speed of light between contractors and those who carry out the work. Every day, there are internet transfers of thousands of billions of dollars, more than ten times the World Gross Domestic Product (all the wealth produced by the planet! ...). There are 25 to 30 billion dollars, gleaned from tax optimization and fraud as well as from all kinds of trafficking (arms, drugs, organs, human beings ...) stashed away in tax havens.


In 2005, François-Xavier Verschave, founder of ‘Survival’ and designer of ‘Françafrique’, created “Plateforme Paradis Fiscaux et Judiciaires" (Platform against Tax and Justice Havens) which unites twenty associations and unions. Networking with elected national and European representatives, senators, universities, journalists, with other European and global organisations and whistleblowers, it has, for ten years, been combatting havens that divert national resources.


These combined efforts have produced a first result. Since January 2014, Article 7 of the Banking Act of 26 July 2013 requires banks to publish certain information: geographical location of their agencies, country by country, sales and earnings achieved, number of employees. It is worth noting that in the same year the European Union adopted the same requirement in the ‘CRD IV’ directive for its member states.


An examination of the details provided in 2014 shows that for France’s 5 largest banks:

  • More than a third of their subsidiaries abroad are in tax havens.
  • More than a quarter (26%) of international banking activity – 13.7 billion euro - is generated from within haven countries.
  • Tax havens are used for investments, asset management and structured financing.
  • Offshore workers are on average twice as productive as others.
  • The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg (notorious for this year’s LuxLeaks) is the tax haven most favoured by French banks (nice and close)
  • There are more than fifteen branches in the Cayman Islands, but not a single employee.
  • There is a preference for tax havens over the emerging countries that are promoted by the economic diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign and Development Affairs.

The obligation has been extended to multinational companies, but with a huge condition: country by country reporting will not be public, protected by trade secrets. This can become a trap for those who might take too close an interest: journalists, NGO activists, whistleblowers ...

Tax Justice


Each state can levy its own taxes to finance the operation of public power, to redistribute resources and correct inequalities, to assure human rights and protect the global commons. However, the different tax rates arising from each state’s tax policy leads to a tax dumping that favours the leakage of resources. The loopholes in the current international regulations in this field make optimization and fraud possible. It would be good if the third conference on climate finance in Addis Ababa were to speak clearly on three issues:


  1. An improvement in governance concerning global taxation issues, in particular, by creating an inter-governmental organisation for tax matters, open to all members of the international community and endowed with adequate resources under the direction of the UN.
  2. Transparency measures to counter tax evasion:
    • Development of a common UN standard for an automatic multilateral sharing of tax information.
    • Elimination of the opaqueness that surrounds the actual beneficiaries across the world by the creation of public registers.
    • Introduction of obligatory annual public reporting, country by country, for multinational companies to include: profits, turnover, number of employees, taxes paid and subsidies received.
  3. Promotion of a fair and progressive tax system by shifting the tax burden from people living in poverty to highly profitable sectors and wealthy individuals.



Even if the balance of power is unfavourable, in terms of both the weight of lobbying and interest alliances, citizen mobilization has shown that, with tenacity and perseverance, the lines can be moved. It is above all a struggle for justice that is never definitively won. It is important that victims - of climate change as much as of lop-sided development - in the North and the South – can make themselves heard. This will be as much in protest against the injustices as in order to participate in the development of alternative solutions.



30 June 2015

Jean-Louis Marolleau

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