Switzerland should be ready to exchange bank information automatically with the European Union in return for access to financial markets, an expert panel said on Friday, a move that would lift the last vestige of its tradition of banking secrecy.
Switzerland should be prepared to agree to an automatic exchange of data on foreign depositors, even before a global standard is established, the report said, representing an about-face of Swiss effort aimed at salvaging what it can of banking secrecy.
The world's biggest offshore financial centre, with $2 trillion in assets, is under massive pressure from the EU and elsewhere, as cash-strapped states seek to stop tax evasion and close loopholes.
"The fundamental ideas of the strategy would be that Switzerland takes an active step in the international tax debate," the commission, led by former top Swiss government economist Aymo Brunetti, said in the report.
Switzerland could withdraw its cooperation in working towards an agreement with the EU if its access to markets was obstructed, but would continue to work with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) towards a global solution, the report said.