EU laws on corruption welcomed

New European Union laws forcing some large companies to reveal their payments to governments around the world have been welcomed by Christian Aid.

The development agency commended the EU for pressing ahead with the Directives despite pressure from some companies to water down the regulations.

"Europe has made some extremely important progress towards tackling corruption linked to the world's mining, gas, oil and logging companies," said Joseph Stead, Christian Aid's Senior Economic Justice Adviser.

"The Directives which the European Parliament and Council agreed in principle will provide campaigners, journalists and other citizens with the information they need to hold their governments to account for the money they get from companies exploiting their countries' natural resources.

"These Directives also presented the opportunity to push the envelope on corporate transparency with stronger provisions to tackle tax evasion and avoidance, which currently drains billions of dollars out of developing countries."

However, there was disappointment that the new rules will not reveal whether companies are paying the right amount of tax as they will not have to disclose information about turnover, profits and their number of employees.

Member states also rejected a call to extend the rules to other sectors like banking, telecommunications and construction.

After failing to back the EU Directives, Christian Aid is looking for the UK to demonstrate its commitment to tax transparency at the upcoming G8.

"Using the UK's power as G8 chair this year to push for a new international convention on tax transparency would be a good start," said Mr Stead.

"Such a convention could become the beginning of the end for tax haven secrecy, which is currently helping tax dodgers, bribe-takers, money launders and a host of other criminals across the world."

The new Directives are expected to get final approval from the European Parliament in June.