Schaeuble doubts transaction-tax deal in sight as talks step up

Schaeuble doubts transaction-tax deal in sight as talks step up

A push by the European Union to get 11 nations to agree on a set of taxes on financial transactions isn’t any closer to completion, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday ahead of meetings in Brussels that seek a breakthrough by year-end.

Schaeuble told reporters before a gathering of euro-area finance ministers in Brussels that he’s “reasonably skeptical” that a compromise is getting any closer. After a meeting last month, objections were raised by Italy, Slovenia and Estonia that prevented movement toward an agreement.

A talk on Monday among the 11 participants will focus on how the tax plan should handle derivatives, offer sovereign debt-linked exemptions, and treat market-making activities, an EU official told reporters in Brussels. The group began work on the levy after efforts among all 28 EU nations failed in 2013. Backers say the tax is needed to raise revenue and limit risky market speculation.

“We have had so many meetings on this topic and then it always fails on some point in one of the member countries,” Schaeuble told reporters Monday. “I don’t know what else to do. We have to find an agreement. Maybe we’ll succeed today and if not we’ll renew our efforts next year.”

Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling, who leads the 11-nation group, said there’s a new compromise proposal that might be acceptable. “It’s right that we don’t have far to go, but as you know the last meter is often the hardest,” he said to reporters ahead of the meetings.

The 11 nations signed up to the talks on the financial- transactions tax are Austria, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia. All 28 EU finance ministers are scheduled to discuss the state of play when they gather Tuesday.

“It’s very important that there’s an agreement today,” EU Economic Affairs and Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said to reporters.


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