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Swiss President Holds EU Tax Talks

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

17 November 2011

President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), recently held talks in Zurich with President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, with the discussions focussing on Swiss-EU relations, the debt crisis in the eurozone, co-operation on tax issues, as well as selected international issues.

During the course of the meeting, Calmy-Rey emphasized that, as a close economic partner of the EU and a major financial centre in Europe, Switzerland is also affected by the crisis in the eurozone.

The Swiss President stated that: “For this reason we are following the developments in the EU very closely and we welcome the measures taken so far to bring the debt problem and its consequences under control."

The President of the Confederation also pointed out that Switzerland was participating in the financing of the rescue measures for the indebted European countries via the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In the field of fiscal cooperation, Swiss President Calmy-Rey alluded to bilateral solutions such as the agreements on final withholding tax with Germany and the United Kingdom, which in terms of scope go beyond that of the agreement with the EU on the taxation of income on savings.

“Switzerland is a co-operative partner,” she said, “and with these agreements on taxation, it has created efficient instruments for cross-border co-operation that take into consideration both the justified claims for taxation of states and the claim for protection of the private sphere.”

The talks also referred to Switzerland’s successful mediation between Georgia and Russia in the matter of customs administration and the supervision of commercial goods and to the agreement reached in Geneva between the two states, paving the way for Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization in the near future.

Concluding the meeting, Calmy-Rey spoke in favour of further deepening the comprehensive and co-ordinated approach Switzerland has adopted in its dealings with the EU to “ensure that satisfactory solutions can be found for both sides in the various files under negotiation”.

Following the meeting, both Calmy-Rey and Van Rompuy gave an address at the Europa Institute at the University of Zurich. Within the framework of the so-called Churchill Lectures, the President of the Confederation alluded to financial and economic challenges currently facing Switzerland, underscoring the importance of regulation, supervision and transparency for the financial markets as well as the need for international co-ordination on regulatory matters.

TAGS: tax | banking | offshore | agreements | banking secrecy | withholding tax | Switzerland | regulation | European Union (EU) | Europe

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