Eleven EU countries, including the bloc's economic powerhouse Germany, failed Monday to reach agreement on a disputed financial transaction tax, according to Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos, who expressed hope that a deal can be clinched next month.
Brussels (dpa) - "I think there has been quite a bit of progress," de Guindos said after the talks in Brussels, adding, "I am optimistic. I think that before the end of the year, we can have the outlines [of an agreement]."
Supporters of the levy have argued that it will help make the financial sector - which many see as the source of recent financial crises - act more responsibly. But critics have said it could increase the cost of capital and drive investment away from Europe.
Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling, who has been overseeing negotiations on the financial transaction tax, had expressed hope of settling the remaining issues Monday, on the sideline of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers.
"If we cannot resolve the few open points that are still disputed, then there will probably be no solution and one must consider how to continue with the project," Schelling said ahead of the talks.
The 11 countries planning to introduce the levy include the eurozone‘s four largest economies - Germany, France, Italy and Spain - as well as Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia.
But there has been disagreement among them on how widely the tax should be applied, and how it should be levied. "Of course, at every meeting special requests are raised by individual states," Schelling noted.
The original aim had been to start introducing the tax at the start of next year, but progress has been delayed. Depending on further developments, it could now be in place by mid-2017, the Austrian minister said.
EU member states agreed in principle on Wednesday to use road testing from 2017 to help evaluate diesel car emissions, on top of the laboratory tests that have been at the heart of a scandal around the German automotive giant Volkswagen.
The emissions scandal that already has cost Volkswagen billions of dollars and damaged its made-in-Germany reputation broadened Monday to include 3-litre engines in Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles.
Prime Minister David Cameron promised to "tighten the law and change the culture" by cracking down on tax evasion and discouraging "aggressive" tax avoidance on Monday, following the British use of tax havens revealed in the Panama Papers.
The Greek government is presenting new measures to raise value added tax (VAT) on food and services in order to save 1.8 billion euros as one of the preconditions set by international creditors for additional aid for the struggling country.