British FM urges Germany to change stance on planned EU transaction tax

BERLIN – Britain’s foreign minister has urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government during a trip to Germany to abandon its support for a European tax on financial transactions.

William Hague says if European Union countries introduce the tax and a planned cap on bankers’ bonuses “we strangle ourselves with regulation that drives away business.”

Britain is worried that restrictions on banking could hurt its powerful financial industry.

Senior German officials were noticeably absent when Hague delivered his remarks at an annual German-British event held in Neuhardenberg near Berlin on Friday.

Hague’s comments contrasted with those made earlier Friday by a spokesman for Germany’s finance ministry.

Martin Kotthaus told reporters that Germany wants a comprehensive financial transaction tax but conceded that finalizing details of the levy is a complex process.