France and the United States, as well as four of the strongest European economies pledged on Thursday, July 26, to reinforce the fight against tax evasion by instituting a free exchange of financial information on foreign accounts, Le Monde reported. The United States will now share the tax information of citizens of the UK, Spain, Italy, France and Germany with their respective countries, and vice versa. Prior to the agreement, this information was only available with reasonable suspicion of tax evasion. Exploring this issue further, Reuters and The Financial Times reported that the Tax Justice Network estimated the total sum of money placed in foreign accounts to be as much as $21 to $32 trillion, meaning about $281 billion in lost income tax. This campaign represents the furthering of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act passed in 2010, to which the Swiss bank Credit Suisse announced it would submit in late June 2012.
Responding to severe droughts in the United States and Russia, French president François Hollande called for increased vigilance on the global grains market, Europe 1 and Le Figaro reported. “The farmers face a particularly tense situation due to grain prices; this is why I have asked [Minister of Agriculture] Stéphane Le Foll to call upon the G20 leaders so they can understand the size and scope of the volatility of the price of raw materials, notably of grains,” Hollande said while visiting a farm in the southwest of France. These comments come in the wake of unprecedented dryness in the United States, causing a 20 percent reduction in the soybean crop.
Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, National Assembly deputy from Essonne and former ecology minister under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, critiqued on Friday, July 27, the preparations required of candidates for the presidency of the recently ousted Union for a Popular Movement party, as candidates are not allowed to seek endorsements online, Libération reported. Kosciusko-Morizet declared on Saturday, July 21, that she would seek the party presidency to provide an alternate choice as it has been torn between two past icons, current secretary general Jean-François Copé and former Prime Minister François Fillon, as covered by The Telegraph and Le Figaro. With little time and no possibility of employing the Internet, many have speculated that the 39-year-old will have difficulty acquiring the requisite 8,000 signatures of elected officials to present her candidacy as hopefuls have until September 15 to announce their intention to seek the head of the party.
After four hours of debate lasting until the early hours of Friday, July 20, France released its amended 2012 budget, drawing criticism from American publications Bloomberg and The Washington Times. The budget buries measures such as the value-added social tax and the tax-exempt status of overtime pay, both of which were championed by former president Nicholas Sarkozy. Measures included in the new bill, such as the tax on financial transactions, which will be levied on 109 top French companies, were decried by Bloomberg’s editors, who called its expected revenue “negligible,” and predicted that it will “frighten away investment.”