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Luxembourg minister urges EU to go after ‘real tax havens’

Published on 22/04/2013

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called on Monday for the European Union to take on "real tax havens" in the British Channel islands, after his country and Austria were pressured into modifying their policies on banking secrecy.

“I hope that, in the fight against the real tax havens, we will act as firmly as we did for the small European Union countries,” Asselborn told a press conference held in Vienna with his counterpart Michael Spindelegger.

In reference to the Channel islands, Asselborn complained that discussions with London only took place privately, saying he would like more transparency on the issue.

“Neither Austria, nor Luxembourg are tax havens,” the minister insisted, before adding that he hoped both countries would coordinate their responses to calls for them to lift banking secrecy policies.

On April 10, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker accepted to do so partially, saying that an automatic exchange of information concerning foreigners who held accounts in his country could take place from January 2015.

That left Austria as the last country to defend total banking secrecy, and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann subsequently said he was prepared to negotiate the issue, but that the country would maintain secrecy for its own citizens.