Swiss banks welcome EU deal

Swiss banks have welcomed the European Union's compromise on savings taxation, which leaves banking secrecy intact.

This content was published on January 22, 2003 - 12:36

The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) said it was pleased the EU had accepted that a withholding tax was an "equivalent measure to an exchange of information".

"The European Union appears to have returned to the so-called coexistence model under which member states are allowed to choose between exchanging information and imposing a withholding tax," spokesman, James Nason, told swissinfo.

The head of the Swiss Private Bankers Association, Michel Derobert, also welcomed the EU deal. He said it was compatible with a Swiss proposal, which had offered to levy a withholding tax as an alternative to scrapping banking secrecy.

Guarantees

However, Derobert warned that Switzerland should seek guarantees from the EU before entering into any taxation agreement.

He said Brussels might sign a deal with Switzerland, and then use another institution, such as the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), to continue pressuring Bern to scrap banking secrecy.

Derobert said the private banks would want to inspect any deal with the Brussels before it was signed. Last week the association threatened to force a referendum on EU ties if the government gave away too much.

For his part, James Nason of the SBA said "Switzerland had made a very generous offer to the EU" and he saw "no room for further concessions in the Swiss offer".

swissinfo

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