Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti has thrown a spanner into a Swiss-EU tax agreement by calling the savings tax directive a “paper tiger” written by Switzerland.
Speaking at a European finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels, an angry Tremonti criticised the directive as a “toothless instrument” that was legally worthless since it didn’t even allow for sanctions.
In recent years Switzerland has come under pressure from its neighbours, including France and Italy, as well as the United States to crack down on tax dodgers and abolish its traditional banking secrecy. Non-EU member Switzerland has been resolutely against an automatic exchange of information.
“Switzerland is not a member of the EU – the EU has become a member of Switzerland,” he said, adding that the directive accommodated third countries above all and was manipulated by member states.
Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann – also in Brussels on Tuesday for a separate meeting – noted that Tremonti had “expressed his opinion clearly” but said now wasn’t the time to react to his comments.
swissinfo.ch and agencies