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Ministers split on tax shake-up

European finance ministers are split over an EU Commission proposal for a common tax on financial transactions.

The divisions emerged at a two-day meeting in Brussels where Polish minister Jacek Rostowski, who chaired the gathering, said "there were very diverse views on this".

Irish Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said Ireland favoured the tax but argued against a eurozone-only solution. He said a tax at the level of the 27 EU member states was preferable.

Mr Noonan said Ireland would find it "very difficult" if there were a financial transactions tax in Dublin and no such tax in London. "That would have a big impact on us," he said.

"We think there should be a tax on the financial sector. After all, countries all over Europe, including Ireland, have paid a lot of taxpayers' money to support the banking system. There must be a day when it's payback time for the taxpayer," Mr Noonan added.

Countries such Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Belgium and Finland are in favour of a transaction tax. However, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic joined Britain and Sweden in opposing it.

British chancellor George Osborne said the initiative should be withdrawn as there was "nothing close" to unanimity on the question.

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