(VIENNA) – Europe’s German-speaking countries will confer over the issue of banking secrecy and the automatic exchange of information demanded by the European Union, Austria’s finance minister said Saturday.
Josef Proell, who met his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin on Friday, said Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland would meet “in the next few weeks”, according to the Austrian news agency APA.
European Union finance ministers are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in Brussels to review the divisive issue of banking secrecy — a meeting that is unlikely to reach agreement, an Austrian source said.
Germany like nearly all EU member countries supports automatic international exchange of information, a measure that would end banking secrecy in Austria and Luxembourg, which are both opposed to the change under current conditions.
For Vienna and Luxembourg, automatic international exchange of information only makes sense if all non-EU member countries still practicing bank secrecy, notably Switzerland and Liechtenstein, also accept the change.
If not, these two countries would encourage tax evasion, they say.
Austria also pointed to Great Britain and the Channel Islands for their trusts industry that guarantees anonymous financial transactions, as do some states in the United States, notably Delaware.
Proell said that when he met the German finance minister on Friday, Schaeuble showed “understanding” for the Austrian position over banking secrecy.