Amid a bitter war of words, the EU is seeking to end a dispute over the branding of any European country as a tax haven.
Reports that no EU member state will appear on a blacklist of such countries may calm the situation. In the meantime, Luxembourg has urged Germany to tone down its rhetoric in the row. Luxembourg’s Treasury and Budget Minister Luc Frieden said: “We should come back to a tone that is not dictated by a country’s size but by the good relations necessary for us to resolve the economic and financial crisis.” Demanding a crackdown on tax havens, Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck compared the Swiss to “Indians” running scared from the cavalry. Also said to have escaped the blacklist, non-EU Switzerland has now agreed to relax its strict bank secrecy rules and co-operate more on tax evasion. But its media reflected outrage over Germany’s transparency drive, including a Swiss member of parliament’s comparison of Steinbrueck to the Nazis. Europe’s largest economy suspects thousands of its citizens are hiding money in offshore accounts in tax havens such as Switzerland and Liechtenstein.