London, Berlin and Athens called back into line
By Tanguy Verhoosel | Wednesday 15 February 2012
“Encouraged by recent international developments to improve transparency and administrative cooperation” on taxation matters, the European Commission reiterated, on 15 February, that it is “more determined than ever to promote information exchange at the largest scale possible”.
It has accordingly held “very constructive discussions” with Germany and the United Kingdom to make their Rubik agreements compatible with European rules on savings taxation (see separate article). “We agreed on the need to remove from their scope” all products covered by existing European rules on savings taxation and those that may be covered in the future. “This should enable us to put this problem behind us and concentrate on the intra-EU negotiations” on the taxation of earnings on savings.
At the same time, the head of the Commission’s task force on Greece, Horst Reichenbach, warned Athens that it must not exceed certain limits if it should decide to conclude an agreement with Switzerland.
A tax amnesty is conceivable for the past, he wrote in a November 2011 letter to the secretary general of the Greek Finance Ministry, seen by
Europolitics. “For the future, however, the scope of the agreement will have to be limited to dividends, capital gains and wealth tax.” There is also no question of granting Switzerland, in exchange, too many advantages on access to financial services markets (one of Berne’s demands): the Union’s “external competence” in this area must be respected.