* Switzerland should exchange bank data with EU -report
* Says this can happen before global standard found
* Sets access to EU financial markets as precondition
ZURICH, June 14 Switzerland should be ready to
share data on foreign depositors with the European Union even
before a global standard is established, a government panel said
on Friday, a move which would lift the last vestige of its
tradition of banking secrecy.
The world's biggest offshore financial centre, with $2
trillion in assets, is under massive pressure from the EU and
elsewhere, as cash-strapped states seek to stop tax evasion and
"The fundamental ideas of the strategy would be that
Switzerland takes an active step in the international tax
debate," the commission, led by former top Swiss government
economist Aymo Brunetti, said in the report.
The recommendations come shortly before the Group of Eight
(G8) leading economies meet next week in Northern Ireland, where
tax avoidance is likely to figure on the agenda.
Switzerland has recently come under increased pressure to
fall into line with the EU after Austria and Luxembourg said
they were prepared to share data on foreign depositors, but
Swiss politicians remain deeply divided on the issue
At the same time, the country is also struggling to
reconcile its strict secrecy laws with a U.S. crackdown on
wealthy Americans using hidden Swiss accounts to dodge taxes.
"The most recent international developments concerning
automatic information exchange (AIE) indicate the pressure on
Switzerland to adopt a (global) AIE regime is being kept up and
even increasing," the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) said in a
"Swiss banks are keen to pro-actively negotiate with the EU
on expanding the taxation of savings income and a type of
information exchange acceptable to the EU," the SBA said.
Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, who was
present at the report's presentation, said the government would
review the report and draw conclusions in September.
The report set out conditions for any automatic information
exchange agreement with the EU, including access to financial
markets. Cooperation should be withdrawn if this access was
obstructed, it said.
Switzerland has accused the EU of being protectionist and
fragmenting global markets with new rules that are unfair to
countries outside the bloc, including the draft EU law MiFID,
which imposes stringent obligations on companies from non-EU
countries wanting to do business in the bloc.
"Market access is important and must be a precondition,"
If an agreement could not be reached with the EU, the alpine
nation would continue to work with the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) towards a global solution,
according to the report.