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EU's Semeta Urges `Quick Progress' on Transaction Tax

European Union Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta called on finance ministers to make “quick progress” toward a financial-transaction tax for participating nations.

All 27 nations and the European Parliament must agree for the Brussels-based commission to design a tax for willing nations under so-called “enhanced cooperation” procedures. The commission requested clearance last month.

Semeta told lawmakers today he will urge finance ministers gathering in Brussels to push the measure forward when he addresses them tomorrow, with reassurances that the tax proposal won’t hurt non-participating nations. “No time should be lost in completing this procedural step, so that the real discussion on the substance can start,” Semeta said in remarks prepared for a European Parliament budget committee.

The EU’s new transaction-tax proposal will be based on a previous plan that, when considered for all 27 EU nations, was estimated to be able to raise 57 billion euros ($72 billion) each year. Semeta said the EU would revise its revenue estimates and also take into account concerns raised with the previous initiative.

Eleven nations so far have said that they would like to be part of the transaction-tax planning: France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Slovakia and Estonia. The Netherlands also has expressed interest, with Dutch officials saying they will insist on getting an exemption for their pension funds.

Semeta said EU lawmakers could consider the transaction tax as early as a December plenary debate. He also called on EU finance ministers to move ahead with a proposed savings tax that has been stalled.

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