Austria’s Finance Minister Maria Fekter said her French counterpart told her today that Budget Minister Bernard Cazeneuve didn’t intend to threaten blacklisting the Alpine nation as non-cooperative in tax matters.
“Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici approached me and made it clear that his colleague, who has only been in his job for 15 days, didn’t really mean it when he spoke of putting Austria on a black list,” Fekter told reporters in Dublin after a meeting of euro region finance ministers.
Austria is under increased pressure after Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said April 10 that his country will begin the automatic exchange of tax data in 2015.
Austrian banks risk a backlash unless the country cooperates with a European Union initiative to fight tax fraud by sharing account information with other bloc members, Cazeneuve said in an interview on France Info radio. Austria “risks being listed as a non-cooperative nation,” he said.
The discussion about bank secrecy in Austria takes place in an election year. The conservative People’s Party opposes an automatic exchange of all data, saying it wants to protect the privacy of small depositors. The party, to which Fekter belongs, has called for a legal review over whether information on foreign account holders can be exchanged.
“I have asked the minister to enlighten his budget minister that Austria meets OECD standards and therefore does not and will not appear on any list,” Fekter said. “Threatening sanctions between EU members is bad form.”
Austria and France have had a double taxation agreement for years that meets information exchange requirements according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development standards, Fekter said.