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EU moves closer on clampdown on tax evasions



The European Union moved closer to agreement on a coordinated clampdown on tax evasion as a total of nine countries backed an initiative for automatic sharing of bank details across borders.

The bloc’s six biggest nations won support from the Netherlands, Belgium and Romania for their proposal to adopt the U.S.’s FATCA information-exchange program, EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said in Dublin yesterday. Semeta also said the 27-nation EU is closing in on updates to a savings tax accord as holdouts Luxembourg and Austria show willingness to compromise.

“I see a clear window of opportunity,” Semeta told journalists on the long-delayed measure requiring nations to exchange information on savings income across borders. “Considering the strong political will, I think we’ll be able to manage” an agreement on it by next month, he said.

Governments from the U.K. to Poland are eyeing what the commission estimates is 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) of lost tax revenue as many European nations struggle to narrow budget deficits. Politics is also spurring the initiative, notably in France, where President Francois Hollande’s popularity has slumped after his budget minister resigned and admitted having an offshore bank account following months of denials.

The message to anyone avoiding taxes is that “the places you can hide are getting smaller and smaller and fewer and fewer,” U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said at a joint press conference with his counterparts from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland. That followed a meeting of EU finance ministers in the Irish capital.