At a meeting in Paris on Tuesday, Germany and France launched a fresh onslaught against Switzerland, claiming it should be black listed for its tax haven status.
"Switzerland offers conditions that invite the German taxpayer to evade taxes. Therefore, in my view Switzerland belongs on such a list"
German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told a news conference. What he means is, the German taxman has his hand in the German taxpayers' pocket to such an absurd extent that they are forced to find ways to make ends meet by seeking alternative investment locations. With monotonous predictability, European states are furiously pointing fingers rather than self-examining.
The bloated and inefficent European welfare state must be fed by punishingly high rates of tax. If they didn't have this revenue, so goes the argument, there would be no provision of public services and the state would, ultimately, collapse.
But Switzerland disproves this in spectacular fashion. Far from collapsing, Switzerland is thriving. If anything, it is a victim of its own success and has become the envy of its neighbours. Why on earth should some European states have the right to decide what others do with their tax policy? This does indeed all smack of the green eyed monster methinks...
If there are any lessons to be drawn from this situation, it's that lowering tax rates makes countries more attractive to businesses and individuals alike. Particularly now, when there is so little money to go around, countries should be doing all they can to attract and retain foreign capital. Decreasing the tax burden is a great way to do this, the politics of envy and dragging policy down to the lowest common denominator is not.