News Summary: EU steps up fight versus tax evasion

News Summary: EU steps up fight against tax evasion, plans reforms by end of 2013

Associated Press

BREAKTHROUGH: The European Union's leaders took a major step in tackling tax-dodgers Wednesday by pushing to end bank secrecy across the bloc's 27 members by year-end.

WHAT CHANGED: Luxembourg and Austria prize themselves on their banking secrecy and have long opposed the reforms, but they gave in after making sure they had enough time to negotiate banking deals with some non-EU countries.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: European officials say tax fraud and evasion costs them an estimated 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) a year at a time when much of the region is in recession and governments are forced to tighten their budgets.

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