Thursday

27th Apr 2017

Liechtenstein vows to work with Europe on tax fraud

Liechtenstein's prime minister Otmar Hasler has pledged to seek a "reasonable agreement" with Europe on tax and transparency issues amid mounting pressure over a massive tax fraud involving wealthy EU citizens.

"With respect to the current tax policy questions that are broadly and controversially debated in Europe, we want to play our part in finding a reasonable agreement," Mr Hasler said on Thursday (28 February), according to the AFP news agency.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He added that negotiations on the "comprehensive tax fraud agreement" applying to both Liechtenstein and EU member states are already "well advanced", and vowed to work towards their "successful conclusion".

The tax row was sparked off earlier this month after German authorities launched an investigation into illegal transfers to avoid taxes by around 600 German citizens included on a list of some 1,400 foreign clients of a Liechtenstein bank.

The province, a tax haven similar to Andorra and Monaco, of some 160 square kilometres situated between Austria and Switzerland with around 35,000 citizens, had initially declined to boost transparency in its banking system.

But it came under a strong pressure from several countries with ongoing investigations related to the German case, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Italy, France, Sweden, Greece and Spain.

Moreover, German interior minister Wolfgang Schaueble insisted at a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels on Thursday that tax havens "are not compatible with European integration."

While the ministers agreed that Liechtenstein could join the Schengen border-control-free area, all member states need to ratify the deal, with Mr Scheuble hinting: "Naturally, the promise [on taxes] of Liechtenstein's head of government must be turned into action" for Berlin to give its green light.

It is not yet known when exactly the province could officially become a part of the Schengen zone, with the timetable being coordinated with Switzerland, but its joining is expected in November.

The tax row is due to be debated further next week by EU finance ministers.

EU starts legal action against Hungary

The EU Commission is to launch a legal probe into Hungary's attack on a Soros-funded university, but Hungary's Orban was unrepentant the he faced MEPs.

European states still top media freedom list

Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland still have the world's most free media, according to Reporters Without Borders, but the overall situation is declining.

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos

The European Commission has called for a meeting this week with EU state experts, following border chaos after the launch of new rules that require systematic checks of EU citizens at the Schengen zone's external borders.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act
  3. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  4. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  6. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  7. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  8. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  9. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  10. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  11. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?