Speculation about who will be placed on the EU's naughty step has reached fever pitch. The latest draft, according to reports last week, contains 20 names, down from a possible 92 at the beginning of the year. That number could be further whittled down -- the horse-trading is continuing up to the wire. So fierce is the debate that some believe publication might be postponed.


In a draft dated 21 November and seen by Bloomberg, the 36 countries named included Panama, Tunisia, Serbia, Armenia, the Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands. There has been talk of adding Turkey. The US, despite being the location of secrecy states like Delaware and Wyoming, where companies can be set up without declaring who owns them, is definitely not on the list. Neither is Switzerland. Most controversially, no EU country will be named.

"Hypocrisy on this front tends to turn against the blacklisting power," the campaign group Tax Justice Network warned last week as it published its own blacklist.

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