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Austria, EU Stress FTT Urgency

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Following a recent meeting in Vienna with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann renewed his calls for a Financial Transactions tax (FTT).

Alluding to the fact that 11 European Union (EU) member states have so far agreed to introduce a levy on financial transactions, within the framework of enhanced cooperation, Chancellor Faymann reiterated the importance of such a tax. It is vital to take a firm stance on the issue and to argue in favour of a "fair contribution from the financial sector," to convince remaining doubters, Faymann insisted.

Referring to ongoing preparations for a banking union, Chancellor Faymann underscored the need to show that "the right conclusions have been drawn from the financial market crisis," and to guarantee greater transparency and accountability in the financial market in future.

Echoing the Austrian Chancellor's remarks, European Commission President Barroso stressed that the tax on financial transactions is "an element of fairness, to show that the financial sector – and we have nothing against the financial sector, we want a dynamic and modern financial sector – should also give a fair contribution to society."

Thanking Austria for "the leadership role that it had in the idea of a Financial Transactions Tax," Barroso pointed out that the Commission has already put forward a concrete proposal and urged all participating member states to swiftly back the plans.

Barroso said: "We have now 11 countries ready to move on with it. Let's hope that it doesn't take too much time because, I insist, this element of fairness is also a condition for confidence, and confidence is key for growth and jobs."

After separate discussions held with EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, Austria's Finance Minister Maria Fekter underscored the importance of eliminating anonymous trusts and similar structures to combat tax evasion.

Fekter stressed that: "Each bank should know its customers, as has been the case in Austria since back in 2002. In addition, however, the actual proprietors of trust companies, trusts, letterbox companies, and the beneficiaries of anonymous foundations must be known, so that tax evasion and money laundering can be effectively prevented."

EU Commissioner Barnier confirmed during the talks that the EU banking insolvency law is to be adopted in the autumn of this year, to ensure that if banks get into difficulty, where possible there should no longer be any impact on taxpayers. This requires a standard resolution mechanism across Europe, as well as a resolution fund, which is funded by the financial institutions, Barnier ended.