Austria: Under pressure
We are picking up reports that sanctions are being considered against Austria due to that country's lack of cooperation in the fight against tax evasion (Austria is a member of the European Union but does not fully cooperate with the EU Savings Tax Directive and applies strict banking secrecy laws).
According to the article below (sorry, only available in French at this stage), as a result of pressure from the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Austrian banks risk being excluded from participating in EIB (European Investment Bank) projects. The EIB extends loans totalling around €60 billion every year on infrastructure finance and support for small and medium enterprises. If the sanctions go ahead they are likely to come into force at the end of March 2010.
Needless to say, we support such sanctions. We met the Austrian Finance Ministry earlier this year. They remain hard-line on banking secrecy and information sharing, as do proponents of the Austrian School of Economics. A bit of political muscle might help them understand that public opinion no longer tolerates their shenanigans.
Likewise we're pleased to see the EIB involved in this action. We are proud to be part of a civil society coalition that has been engaging the EIB on its policy - or lack thereof - on funding via tax havens. It is not acceptable that EIB funding be routed anywhere near tax havens, and we want the EIB to disengage entirely from working with banks and other companies which use these fiddle factories.
Bravo to the European Union.
SECRET BANCAIRE • L'UE en vient à sanctionner l'Autriche
19.08.2009 Der Standard
* Union européenne
La Banque européenne d'investissement (BEI), face au manque de coopération de Vienne en matière de lutte contre l'évasion fiscale, a décidé de prendre des sanctions, annonce le quotidien autrichien. "Sous la pression de la France, du Royaume-Uni et de l'Allemagne, les banques autrichiennes seront désormais exclues des projets lancés par la BEI." La BEI dépense chaque année 60 milliards d'euros en financement d'infrastructures et de mesures de soutien aux PME. Ces sanctions doivent entrer en vigueur le 31 mars 2010.