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Schäuble defends tax accord with Switzerland

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says the accord to start negotiations with Switzerland on tax matters is “in the interest of Europe”.

In an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper of Zurich on Friday, Schäuble said the agreement could contribute to solving the dispute within the European Union over an automatic exchange of information on tax matters.

Schäuble and his Swiss counterpart Hans-Rudolf Merz signed a deal on Wednesday to begin formal talks in 2011 aimed at legalising undeclared assets in Swiss bank accounts.

In the interview, Schäuble said the fact that Britain had signed a similar deal showed that “there are others in Europe who do not consider it fundamentally wrong to have developed and signed [such an accord] with Switzerland”.

He believed the effect of the agreement would be comparable to an automatic exchange of information.

Luxembourg and Austria have refused to introduce an automatic exchange arguing that non-EU member Switzerland does not have similar regulations.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR