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Luxembourg Signs Up to EU Savings-Tax Agreement, Ending Deadlock

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said his country has reached a deal with other European Union nations on the extension of a savings-tax arrangement that will require all of the bloc’s 28 members to exchange data.

Luxembourg and Austria, which had voiced longstanding opposition to the pact, have received guarantees that negotiations on bank-transparency with Switzerland and other non-EU countries are making progress, Bettel said today.

“With Austria, Luxembourg can go ahead and give the green light for the EU savings directive,” Bettel told reporters during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels. “In December we said we wanted certain guarantees, and today we got those guarantees.”

The agreement will set standards for how countries can collect information on income their residents earn from savings held in other nations. It will require all EU countries to exchange information after a transition period.

Austria and Luxembourg had refused to sign up to the agreement before the conclusion of talks on the exchange of savings information between the EU and Switzerland and four other non-EU countries with borders on the 28-nation bloc.

Today, Bettel said he had received guarantees that the countries -- Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra and Monaco -- have made progress in adopting automatic data exchange.

Luxembourg’s financial sector “is ready for these changes,” Bettel said. “It’s been a while that Luxembourg has been willing to go in the direction of more transparent banking.”

The agreement was “indispensable for enabling the member states to better clamp down on tax fraud and tax evasion,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said in an e-mailed statement.

“This is a clear message that Europe is fully committed to the new single global standard for automatic exchange of tax information.”

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