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By Joe Kirwin
Finance ministers from 10 European Union countries hoping to implement a financial transactions tax agreed Feb. 21 to consider a pair of options that would exempt the pension funds industry from the the levy.
Based on a proposal from France, the 10 countries are considering either a sector-wide pension fund exemption to the FTT or a compensation scheme for pensioners who suffer losses due to the FTT.
European Taxation Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told journalists consideration of pension industry exemptions was a condition imposed by some of the 10 countries led by Belgium and Germany that insist they are necessary if they are to continue to pursue FTT negotiations.
Other EU countries among the 10 are insisting that further evaluation is needed on how the FTT would impact the “real economy.” A key consideration here is how trading among companies part of the same group will be considered.
Speculation has mounted in recent months that the FTT would be shelved as Germany, France and other nations maneuver to convince U.K.-based banks to move to the continent in the wake of Brexit. However, Moscovici insisted such speculation is misguided.
“It would be the wrong signal to send that we drop the FTT because a country had decided to leave the EU,” Moscovici said.
Spanish Finance Minister Luis Guindos told journalists Spain has grown impatient with what he said were endless rounds of negotiations.
“In the end, what is important is political will and that is what we all have to show because it is not reasonable to continue forever these talks,” Guindos told journalists at a Feb. 21 press conference.
The 10 EU countries in the FTT talks are due to meet again in March to consider the possible exemptions for pensions. “We are hoping the finish line to the negotiations is very near,’' Moscovici said of the FTT talks.
The EU executive body proposed a tax on financial transactions in 2011. Because there wasn’t unanimous approval of the 28 member states, the 10 countries have agreed to use a special legislative procedure to put an FTT in place.
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