BERLIN Feb 6 Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier
Bettel said at a news conference in Berlin with Chancellor
Angela Merkel on Thursday that his country would not block the
expansion of the European Union savings directive in the long
Bettel said Luxembourg does not want to hold up an EU
agreement on expanding the EU directive that would strengthen
rules on how income on savings held in bank accounts is taxed
until other separate agreements with other non-EU countries,
such as Switzerland, have been reached.
"We will not do a blockade for the sake of having a
blockade," Bettel said.
Merkel immediately welcomed the announcement, saying she was
pleased that Luxembourg does not want to use Switzerland as an
excuse to prevent the expansion of the EU savings directive.
As part of a drive to curb tax evasion, Germany has been
putting pressure on all "offshore" banking centres in Europe to
apply uniform rules on exchanging account holders' information,
with particular attention on Luxembourg and Austria, the only EU
states holding out.
The European Commission wants all 27 EU member states to
strengthen rules on how income on savings held in bank accounts
is taxed, including an automatic exchange of information about
which account holders receive what interest payments.
Nearly all EU members already have such an exchange under
rules known as the EU Savings Directive, but Luxembourg and
Austria have not wanted to reveal the names of account holders
to other countries and instead get the banks to apply a