Correspondent, Brussels
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May 22, 2013

Europe closes in on tax havens; Austria agrees to swap bank data

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe moved closer to ending banking secrecy on Wednesday after Austria dropped objections to sharing data on foreign depositors and the EU focused on negotiating a similar agreement with Switzerland.

“It’s a bad day for tax cheats,” Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann told reporters at a meeting of EU leaders to discuss fighting tax fraud. “We will act jointly and I believe we will manage the exchange of data by the end of the year.”

May 17, 2013

ECB eyes supervisor role to squeeze weak banks

BRUSSELS, May 17 (Reuters) – The European Central Bank could
use its new supervisory role from next year to single out weak
banks and make it harder for them to get its financial support,
people familiar with the matter say.

Such a hardening of approach would keep ECB funding flowing
to Europe’s most important lenders but compel laggards to beef
up their capital buffers, prod national central banks to take on
the problem or even force some banks to go to the wall.

May 14, 2013

EU to start talks with Switzerland on bank secrecy

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union finance ministers gave the green light on Tuesday to start talks with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and three other countries on new rules for swapping bank account information, officials said.

The talks had long been opposed by EU members Luxembourg and Austria, which were seeking to defend their own bank secrecy rules, but on Tuesday their finance ministers dropped those objections.

May 14, 2013

Austria edges towards ending banking secrecy

BRUSSELS, May 14 (Reuters) – Austria edged closer to ending
bank secrecy for foreigners on Tuesday, bringing it into line
with the rest of the EU, saying it would not block talks between
the European Union and countries such as Switzerland over
sharing bank information.

Austria has been the last EU holdout on bank secrecy after
Luxembourg changed tack last month.

May 8, 2013

European banking union? Don’t hold your breath

BRUSSELS, May 8 (Reuters) – In June last year, European
Union leaders made a great fanfare of committing to ‘banking
union’, a three-step plan to shore up the region’s 8,000 banks
and prevent a repeat of the debt and financial crisis.

Eleven months on, deep cracks have emerged in the visions
member states have of the scheme, with Germany in particular
raising doubts about its overall feasibility although both it
and France have promised progress by the end of next month.

Apr 29, 2013

EU considers protecting savers against future bank collapses

BRUSSELS, April 29 (Reuters) – Depositors should be the very
last to suffer losses when a bank collapses, according to a
proposal being discussed by European Union countries and seen by
Reuters, which would shield savers from the kind of losses they
face in Cyprus.

The idea comes as member countries finalise a new draft law
for the European Union that could make losses for larger savers
a permanent feature of future banking crises. EU officials,
however, are nervous that such a regime will panic savers,
prompting them to withdraw money.

Apr 29, 2013

Denmark’s taxes highest in Europe, Ireland among lowest

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. And the place you’re most likely to pay big taxes is northern Europe.

In its 2011 tax report released on Monday, Europe’s statistics agency identified Denmark as having the highest tax burden in the European Union, with income equivalent to 47.7 percent of the country’s annual output.

Apr 26, 2013

Euro zone sees light at end of tunnel, pitfalls remain

BRUSSELS, April 26 (Reuters) – There are no calls for
celebration, no desire to relax in the corridors of Brussels but
some officials believe the euro zone has turned a corner,
sharpening the focus on longer-term reforms and structures.

Despite a messy bailout of Cyprus, markets are calm,
Ireland’s rescue programme is on track and Greece and Portugal,
while still in recession, hope for a slow recovery next year.

Apr 24, 2013

Divisions hamper bid for trading tax in Europe

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Divisions have emerged within a group of European countries planning to set a tax on financial transactions, an EU document showed, and doubts over central aspects of the levy are threatening to delay or water down the scheme.

The idea has already opened a rift in Europe after Britain last week mounted a legal challenge to the plan, which would hit trades involving banks in London even though Britain has no intention of signing up to the scheme.

Apr 13, 2013

Germany puts brakes on EU bank union with treaty call

DUBLIN, April 13 (Reuters) – Germany said European banking
union will require changes to EU law, in a call that could slow
completion of the plan designed to underpin the euro currency.

Speaking after a meeting of European Union finance ministers
on Saturday, Germany Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said
the EU’s Lisbon treaty had to be changed to allow common rules
on shutting troubled banks – a central element of the union.

    • About John

      "I am a Reuters correspondent in Brussels, writing about the European Union. I moved here last year from Germany, where I had reported about the financial crisis, turning up numerous scoops and even winning a prestigious business reporting award. Beforehand, I worked with The Sunday Times in London."
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