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Commissioner tries to persuade Malta on financial transactions tax

The European Commission's proposal for a financial transactions tax was "technically easy to implement, economically bearable, financially productive and politically just," Commissioner Michel Barnier said this morning.

Malta is opposing the tax because it will put the country's financial services at a competitive disadvantage.

Addressing a news conference with Finance Minister Tonio Fenech this morning, the commissioner for internal market and services described the tax as "rather small".

Mr Barnier said the tax was a new idea but over the past few years a lot was done by the EU to protect the financial services sector and it was only natural that the sector gave something back.

"The commission can only propose, now we will see how it progresses in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament where decisions will eventually be taken."

He said the Commission was in talks with the Maltese government about the issue.

Mr Barnier, in Malta on a one-day visit, and Mr Fenech discussed matters relating to the internal market, the transposition of EU directives and the Commission's initiatives to make life easier for businessmen and consumers across the EU.

Asked about fears that the eurozone may disintegrate as a result of the sovereign debt crisis, Mr Barnier shunned what he described as "a catastrophic and fatalistic view of the problems".

He said the euro was a solid currency and not at stake.

The problem was with sovereign debt that some countries had, he added saying this triggered consequences for other countries.

Mr Barnier said it was a question of determination to implement what heads of government agreed upon in October.

Each country must work at home to manage its budget properly and reduce sovereign debt.

Drawing on the famous quote from the rallying call of the three musketeers, Mr Barnier said every country had to adopt the principle: "One for all and all for one."

Mr Fenech said Europe would be strong despite the current crisis.

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