The Austrian government has decided to join Luxembourg for talks with the European Union on softening its stance on coveted bank secrecy.
Announcing the measures, Austria’s Chancellor Werner Fayman said to be able to act more quickly and efficiently, more action is needed to fight tax havens and tax fraud.
Faymann, a Social Democrat, stressed that Austrians’ domestic bank accounts would remain shielded from the taxman’s prying eye, but foreigners’ wealth in local banks could face unprecedented scrutiny if the talks with Brussels go well.
The move marks a dramatic U-turn for a country that has refused to share personal data on savers with fellow EU members.
But with Vienna’s austerity-minded peers keen to collect more tax revenue from citizens’ offshore wealth, Austria, like Luxembourg, has come under heavy pressure. This has grown since last month’s bailout of
Cyprus, whose oversized banking system had gorged on foreign funds attracted by low taxes and easy regulation.