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Berlin urges swift action on EU transcations


Germany on Friday pushed for quick decisions to be made on a mooted tax on financial transactions amid British fears that such a levy could drive away business from Europe.

A spokesman for Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Berlin wanted to know quickly whether a European Commission proposal on such a tax could be implemented at EU-level.

"We want to know quickly, as soon as possible, at the latest by the end of the first quarter, whether this is a proposal that works, that can fly, that is worth working on," Martin Kotthaus told a regular government news briefing.

"If not, we need to look to see whether there are other alternatives," he added.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman hailed as "clever and sensible" a proposal by Economy Minister Philipp Roesler for a tax on stock market activity as a compromise to "bring Britain on board."

However, he stressed Berlin was still pushing for a financial transactions tax on the basis of the Commission proposal "because it corresponds to our demands for a broad tax with a low rate."

Roesler had earlier proposed in an interview with the Rheinische Post daily that Britain could be persuaded to give up its veto on the financial transactions tax if the other 26 European states followed its model.

"The British already have a special type of stock market tax, the so-called stamp tax," he said.

"If the British cannot move towards the European model of a financial transaction tax, then it would appear sensible to discuss the British model with Britain and other European countries," Roesler said.