Ten EU States Vow to Push Ahead on Financial-Transaction Tax

The 10 European Union countries working on a financial-transaction tax will continue their efforts in the second half of the year despite skepticism about the plan’s feasibility.

“We as chair of the working group submitted a proposal today that was broadly accepted,” Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said on Thursday. “There are two technical issues that need to be solved. For these two technical issues a task force was set up.”

The task forces should wrap up their work by September, and then “there will have to be a final decision,” Schelling told reporters after talks in Luxembourg. “That’s why I agreed to stay as coordinator until September. Everyone is aware that if we don’t have a solution by September, we probably won’t have one.”

Schelling said earlier this month that the number of participating countries may fall below nine, putting an end to the project. The countries still involved are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Plans for a transaction tax already failed among all 28 EU nations, and the current talks are seeking a compromise among a smaller group that sought to press on under “enhanced cooperation” rules, which require consensus from at least nine nations.

Johan Van Overtveldt, Belgium’s finance minister, said the Austrian proposal was “received positively” by the group. “A few technical issues -- for example, with respect to derivatives related to public debt -- need to be further cleared out, but the 10 countries are still at the table.”

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