The Swiss government is optimistic about finding a solution to its tax dispute with Italy, despite public attacks by Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti.
Speaking at a European finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, Tremonti described the savings tax directive written by Switzerland as a “paper tiger”.
He said it was a “toothless instrument” that was legally worthless since it didn’t even allow for sanctions.
The government said on Thursday Tremonti’s remarks had “not been appreciated by Switzerland at all”.
In recent years Switzerland has come under pressure from its neighbours to crack down on tax dodgers and abolish its traditional banking secrecy. As a non-EU member, Switzerland has been resolutely against an automatic exchange of information.
Switzerland is keen to break the deadlock, the government said. It pointed to the fact that it has updated its policy on providing administrative assistance to countries looking for suspected tax cheats, and said it could use diplomatic channels to pursue dialogue.
If Italy fails to respond favourably to Switzerland’s offer of dialogue, the government will consider the issue again.
“All measures that are compatible with public international law” would then be examined, it said.
swissinfo.ch and agencies