A comparative Eurobarometer survey on citizens’ 'perceptions and expectations', conducted for the European Parliament in 2016 and 2018, shows that the share of EU citizens who would like the EU to intervene more in the fight against tax fraud has remained almost unchanged – a marginal fall of one percentage point, from 75 % to 74 %. It also remains amongst the policy areas with strongest support for increased EU intervention, but has slipped from the third strongest for expectations of increased EU intervention (after the fight against terrorism, and against unemployment) to fourth place (due to the increased importance EU citizens attach to environmental protection)

There are differences across Member States. The strongest support for increased EU action is registered in Portugal (91 %), and Spain (89 %). The weakest support for more EU action is expressed by citizens in Estonia and Austria (52 % in each). Despite the differences, a majority of citizens in every Member State see it as necessary for the EU to step up its involvement with fighting tax fraud.

The overall support for increased EU involvement in the fight against tax fraud has declined marginally, by one percentage point. The most prominent changes are registered in Poland (increase of 13 percentage points) and Estonia (decrease of 9 percentage points). In 14 Member States the change is below two percentage points, which can be considered a marginal change or as a rather stable perception. Looking in particular at EU action in the field of the fight against tax fraud, 27 % of Europeans evaluate it as adequate. The support for this positive evaluation of the EU’s involvement in this policy area has increased by five percentage points. The share of people who consider EU involvement to be insufficient has decreased from 66 % to 57 % – a drop of nine percentage points. Nevertheless, the share of people who are not satisfied with the current level of EU involvement is still considerably larger than those who evaluate it as sufficient. The trend of improved perception of EU involvement is almost universal. It is seen to the largest degree in Romania and Hungary (an increase of 18 percentage points in each of the countries). The opposite trend is registered in only two Member States – the UK (decrease of five percentage points) and Malta (decrease of three percentage points). Despite the decreasing gap between citizens’ expectations for increased EU involvement and their evaluation of its current involvement, this gap still exists and is considerable. There is still room for improvement in addressing the preferences and expectations of EU citizens.

According to a recent study by the University of London, EU states lost an estimated 824 billion Euros in tax money in 2015. This is far more than the amount that the public sector misses out on by corporations legally avoiding taxes (50 to 190 billion euros) 

Estimated level of evaded taxes in EU countries (billions euros)

Source: University of London (2015)

  1. Italy: 190.9
  2. Germany: 125.1
  3. France: 117.9
  4. United Kingdom: 87.5
  5. Spain: 60
  6. Poland: 34.6
  7. Belgium: 30.4
  8. Netherlands: 22.2
  9. Greece: 19.9
  10. Denmark: 17.5
  11. Sweden: 16.9
  12. Romania: 16.2
  13. Austria: 12.9
  14. Portugal: 11.0
  15. Finland: 10.7
  16. Hungary: 9.1
  17. Czech Republic: 8.8
  18. Ireland: 6.9
  19. Slovakia: 5.4
  20. Bulgaria: 3.8
  21. Croatia: 3.5
  22. Lithuania: 3.1
  23. Slovenia: 2.6
  24. Latvia: 1.7
  25. Cyprus: 1.6
  26. Luxembourg: 1.6
  27. Estonia: 1.4
  28. Malta: 0.9

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