EU moves to close tax loopholes

Door always open? The Swiss finance ministry has said it is willing to talk tax with the EU Keystone

European Union finance ministers have given the green light to start talks with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and three other countries on new rules for swapping bank account information.

This content was published on May 14, 2013 - 19:10 and agencies

The talks in Brussels had long been opposed by EU members Luxembourg and Austria, which were seeking to defend their own bank secrecy rules, but on Tuesday their finance ministers dropped those objections.

"Ministers have adopted a negotiating mandate on the savings tax with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino," said one EU official with knowledge of the talks.

The basis of the talks with Switzerland will be the so-called EU savings tax directive.

By giving the European Commission the go-ahead to negotiate with Switzerland, EU finance ministers hope to push for the same rules to be applied to Switzerland as would be applicable to Austria and the wider European Union.

Swiss willingness

A spokesman for Switzerland’s finance ministry underscored the country’s willingness to cooperate and said it would now consider how to respond.

“Back in 2009, Switzerland had already declared its willingness in principle to discuss extending the EU savings tax agreement so as to close loopholes,” said the spokesman.

"In its assessment of future frameworks, Switzerland will use developments in important international financial centres outside the EU in addition to developments in the EU."

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