LONDON – The coalition’s plans to crack down on Britain’s tax havens were discussed April 13 at a meeting between British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, amid growing concerns in Germany.
Merkel was understood to have had questions about the monitoring of British sovereign territories used as tax havens by the rich.
The German public has been alarmed in recent weeks about reports of its citizens using havens to avoid paying taxes at home, and the matter has become an electoral issue. But sources close to Cameron said that he was first to raise the future of the territories in order to spell out how his government was cracking down on tax avoidance in places such as the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.
A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister was keen, ahead of June’s Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland, to stress that the U.K. and others “should show global leadership by taking concrete action on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance and making clear that everyone must pay their fair share of taxes.”
The two leaders also agreed on the “urgent need” to make Europe more “competitive and flexible,” according to Downing Street.
After the talks, Downing Street said the two leaders also agreed that the EU should be prepared to make an ambitious offer in trade talks with the United States.
A spokesman said: “They both want to see faster progress on trade deals between the EU and the rest of the world. And they agreed that the EU should be prepared to put an ambitious offer on the table for EU-U.S. negotiations, which we want to get under way this summer.”
In his keynote speech on Britain’s future in Europe earlier this year, Cameron pledged to hold a referendum during the early part of the next parliament — by the end of 2017 at the latest — if the Tories win the next general election. He has argued a new settlement is needed before U.K. voters are asked if they want to end ties with Brussels.
A spokesman said that areas of agreement were also found on Syria and Afghanistan, saying: “The PM updated the chancellor on the trilateral talks with (Afghan and Pakistani) Presidents Karzai and Zardari, and they discussed how the international community should work in partnership with Afghanistan to support the country beyond 2014.
“On Syria, they share grave concerns about the deteriorating situation and the ongoing bloodshed. They agreed that the U.K. and Germany should keep working together to find ways to increase the pressure on Assad and his regime while also strengthening the moderate opposition.”