Key events that led to EU referendum

A chronology of key events that led to David Cameron’s EU referendum, covering the Greek financial crisis, Christine Lagarde’s revelation about the massive tax avoidance perpetrated by wealthy Greek individuals that instigated Nicholas Sarkozy to combat tax avoidance and evasion, mounting up to the EU Anti Tax Avoidance Directive, and Nigel Farage’s campaign to leave the EU.  

6 October 2009 – George Papandreou became the 182nd Prime Minister of Greece.

18 October 2009 – George Papandreou’s new socialist government reveals a black hole in government accounts, admitting the budget deficit will be double the previous government’s estimate and will hit 12% of GDP.

2 May 2010 – Eurozone finance ministers agree to rescue Greece with a €110bn (£92bn) loan, extended over three years. A week later, ministers announce a €500bn eurozone rescue fund.

28 October 2010 – In an attempt to reveal the culprit behind Greece’s financial crisis, the French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde provided Greek authorities with the names of 1,991 Greek citizens with bank accounts at HSBC’s Geneva branch, involved in massive tax avoidance.

4 November 2011 – Addressing the need for fiscal stability, at the G20 summit press conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that they would no longer tolerate tax havens and that countries which continue to protect them will be outcasted from the developed economies.

29 November 2011 – The European Financial Stability Facility began working on a new EU fiscal compact treaty to establish a new fiscal rule for its member states, the EU Anti Tax Avoidance Directive, that would be transposed in Member States’ national legal systems, a process that would be verified by the European Court of Justice.

09 December 2011 – Cameron vetoes the EU fiscal compact treaty on establishing a new fiscal rule.

27 June 2012 – The European Commission released their communication to the European Parliament and the Council on concrete ways for EU member states to reinforce the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, including third countries.

28 Jun 2012– 100 Tory MPs called on David Cameron to prepare legislation committing the UK to an EU referendum after the next election.

29 June 2012 – Speaking at a press conference at the EU summit, David Cameron ignored the demands from the Tory Eurosceptics by dismissing their calls for an EU referendum. saying:
“I completely understand why some people want an in/out referendum. Some people just want to get out: stop the bus, I want to get off. But I don’t share that view. That is not the right thing to do.

30 June 2012 – David Cameron meets Prince Andrew and Prince Edward at an event marking Armed Forces Day, and after this encounter, for the first time, the British Prime Minister informs the British public that he changed his mind about the EU referendum and that he now favours having one when the time is right.

06 December 2012 – The European Commission presents its Action Plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion.

23 January 2013 – In his Bloomberg speech, David Cameron promised to get ‘fundamental reform’ and then call an in/out referendum, pledging to “exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU Directives.”

7 April 2013 – David Cameron undertook his first push to exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU Directives, requesting from the President of the European Council to exclude offshore trusts from the EU’s new Anti Tax Avoidance Directive.

21 May 2013 – Addressing the EU Parliament, Nigel Farage defended the British tax-dodging practices, accusing the EU of creating barriers between the UK, and the British tax havens through their Anti Tax Avoidance Directive.

28 January 2016 – The European Commission revealed the final draft of the EU Anti Tax Avoidance Directive.

20 February 2016 – David Cameron announced the June date for UK’s vote on whether to stay or leave the European Union.

13 April 2016 – Conservative, UKIP, and DUP MEPs voted against the EU plans to crack down on corporate tax dodging by making companies report where they make their profits and pay taxes.

19 April 2016 – Pro-Brexit MPs voted against giving the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority duties to combat abusive tax avoidance arrangements, including by ascertaining and recording the beneficial ownership of trusts.


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