Sven Giegold

Economic Statistics: International capital flows to become more transparent


The European Parliament today voted its final legislative agreement on the revision of the Regulation on balance of payments statistics. Balance of payments statistics give information on the web of international flows to and from a member state’s economy. Over the last few years, legal structures aimed at concealing capital flows have been increasingly weakening transparency which result to the positioning of Luxembourg and the Netherlands among the biggest direct investors. On a Green initiative the European Parliament took the initiative to tackle this problem and member states agreed to support and commit themselves to improving the transparency of the statistics. Additionally, Eurostat agreed to publish the statistical data in a more userfriendly form on the internet page.

Commenting on the vote, Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesman of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and report draftsperson on the Regulation on statistics concerning balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment, said:


“I welcome today’s vote by a broad majority in the European Parliament on my report which calls for more transparency in international capital flows. It is key that balance of payments data cannot be manipulated any longer by holdings or special purpose vehicles in tax havens. From now on, it will be possible to see the start and end points of investment flows. Eurostat and the Member States will now have to publish the data on capital flows in a clear and accessible way. EU institutions recently decided to set up registers of who’s the final beneficiary of companies (“ultimate beneficial ownership’). Eurostat and member states will now include the data of these upcoming registers to be included in statistics on capital flows.. These changes will shed much-needed light on the murky world of investment flows.

Transparency on direct investment flows is also to be improved. Inter alia Member States and the European Commission are now aiming to improve statistics in order to better understand whether a given direct investment results in job creation or whether it serves only a company take-over.

The EU-Commission committed to take measures to make important data available online for everyone. This form of disentangling the maze of Excel tables on the Eurostat webpage will be helpful not just for experts but the general public as well. None of these changes appeared in the European Commission’s original proposal but were pushed through with broad cross-party support by the European Parliament.”

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