EU legislators struck an anti-corruption deal Tuesday that aims to force big mining companies to make public the payments they make to governments where they operate, officials said.
Bargaining between EU member states and European Parliament MEPs delivered the deal focused on companies with turnovers of at least 40 million euros, total assets worth 20 million or 250 employees, European Union Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier said in a statement.
The agreement covers "disclosure requirements for the extractive industry and loggers of primary forests and on simpler accounting requirements for small companies."
Barnier, a former French foreign minister, said the extractive business was "far too often shrouded in secrecy", and that the new legislation would therefore "help fight tax evasion and corruption."
It "shows how EU legislation can be a catalyst for change in developing countries," he added, arguing that communities in resource-rich territories "will finally be better informed about what their governments are being paid by multinationals for exploiting oil and gas fields, mineral deposits and forests."
The Oxfam charity, which campaigns on behalf of developing countries, said the accord was to be welcomed.
"It's excellent news that the EU is moving towards a law that will help ordinary people harness the natural resource wealth of their countries to be lifted out of poverty," said Catherine Olier, Oxfam's EU development expert.
But at the same time, the "EU politicians today could have taken a bolder stance against tax evasion and corruption by including other sectors such as telecommunications or construction," Olier said in a statement.
"Strikingly, poor countries lose more to tax dodging than they receive in aid each year."
The accord must now go to be approved by the 27 EU member states.