Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the conclusions adopted at the recent European Council meeting on the revised Savings Tax Directive have enabled "a green light from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg."
He expressed his satisfaction that all 28 European Union (EU) member states reached an agreement at the latest European Council meeting in Brussels, and said Luxembourg wants to have "a transparent banking center."
Bettel underlined the importance of the European Commission's assurance that it will continue negotiating with European third countries to establish equivalent measures, with the aim of reaching a conclusion by the end of the year.
The EU 28 formally adopted the revised Savings Tax Directive on March 24, 2014. The Directive aims to clamp down on cross-border tax evasion through the automatic exchange of information (AEI). The scope of the Directive is extended to investment funds, pensions, and innovative financial instruments, closing existing loopholes.
Luxembourg and Austria had made their support for the new deal conditional on accelerated negotiations with third countries, such as Switzerland, to create a level playing field.
Taking note of the European Council's agreement to extend the scope of the Directive, the Luxembourg Bankers' Association (ABBL) stated:
"We welcome the current efforts to establish the automatic exchange of information as a global standard. The approved amendments to the Savings Directive merely represent an intermediary step in this on-going process."
"Luxembourg banks have been actively preparing for the introduction of the automatic exchange of information at least since 2009, when Luxembourg agreed to introduce the exchange of information on demand in its double taxation treaties."
It continued: "In the interest of the EU wealth management industry, the ABBL would like to reiterate its call for a level playing field regarding the implementation of the AEI. We therefore urge the European Commission to continue its efforts and to move forward swiftly in order to ensure that concerned non-EU countries continue to apply measures equivalent to those in the EU. In this context, we welcome Prime Minister Bettel's announcement that Luxembourg received guarantees that the EU Commission's negotiations with these countries would be concluded by the end of the year."
"We also call on authorities to ensure that a single, consistent, and coherent framework for the automatic exchange of information is put in place. EU and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) approaches must be aligned in order to avoid a costly and burdensome proliferation of different AEI standards and deadlines of entry into force. We join our colleagues of the European Banking Federation by insisting on streamlined AEI standards, whose costs and administrative burdens are bearable for the financial industry and that are manageable from a day-to-day operational point of view.".
On July 10, 2018, officials from Kenya and Portugal signed a DTA.
On July 11, 2018, San Marino and the United Arab Emirates signed a DTA.
The UAE's Cabinet on June 13, 2018, approved DTAs signed with Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, and Turkmenistan.
A law to ratify the Azerbaijan-Morocco DTA was tabled before Morocco's Cabinet on June 14, 2018.
Qatar's Government on June 14, 2018, confirmed that it had completed its domestic ratification procedures in respect of a DTA signed with Argentina.
Ukraine's Cabinet on June 6, 2018, approved a law to ratify a DTA Protocol signed with the United Kingdom.
Luxembourg and Vietnam agreed to continue negotiations towards a DTA Protocol at a June 15 meeting.
Sweden's Parliament on June 7, 2018, approved an amendment to the country's DTA with Switzerland to clarify the scope of the term pension fund in the agreement.
Switzerland's lower house of Parliament on May 29, 2018, approved DTAs with Kosovo and Pakistan.
The Moroccan Government has approved for ratification a DTA with the Republic of the Congo, it announced on May 29, 2018.
Argentina has approved a protocol to its DTA with Brazil, the Argentinian Official Gazette reported on May 23, 2018.
Brazil's upper house of Parliament on May 30, 2018, approved a protocol updating the DTA with Norway.
Hong Kong and Finland on May 24, 2018, signed a DTA.
Legislation ratifying a new DTA between Russia and Japan was submitted to the Russian State Assembly (the Duma) for approval on May 22, 2018.
Vietnam and Macau signed a DTA on April 16, according to a statement released by the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance on May 11, 2018.
Talks are continuing on a DTA between Jordan and Switzerland, according to a statement released by Jordan's Foreign Ministry on May 14, 2018.
The Czech Senate approved a law to ratify the DTA with Ghana on May 17, 2018.
The Philippines-Thailand DTA entered into force on March 5, and the Philippines' DTA with Sri Lanka on March 14, the Filipino tax agency announced on May 17, 2018. They will be effective from January 1, 2019.
Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation met with Luxembourg's Finance Minister to discuss enhanced cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas and agreed to seek to conclude a DTA.
Uzbekistan and Lithuania are to engage in talks towards a DTA, Uzbekistan's state news agency reported May 9, 2018.
Two Georgian committees approved the text of a DTA with Saudi Arabia and forwarded it for ratification, according to a May 17 announcement on the Georgian parliament's website.
Hong Kong gazetted an order to ratify its DTA with Saudi Arabia on May 18, 2018.
Talks are continuing on a DTA between Turkey and Afghanistan, according to a statement released by Turkey's Ministry of the Interior on May 11, 2018.
A new DTA between Finland and Spain will enter into force in January 2019, according to a May 18, 2018, announcement from the Finnish tax authority.
Andorra and Cyprus have signed a DTA, Andorra's Government announced on May 18, 2018.