The EU commissioner for taxation, Algirdas Semeta, has urged Austria to stop being the odd man out in the European bloc by clinging to banking secrecy laws its EU partners want to see abolished. "Austria certainly doesn't want to be isolated over the long term," Semeta told the latest edition of the German news weekly Der Spiegel. Once Austria drops its defence of banking secrecy, he said, the EU will be able to pass a directive further reinforcing one already in force from this year that promotes the sharing of bank account information between EU member states. The EU push to establish bank data sharing across the bloc has gathered momentum in recent weeks as Europe struggles with a severe economic malaise and the eurozone teeters under a debt crisis. Austria is the last hold-out to the initiative, refusing to participate in a blanket automatic exchange of information on EU residents who have Austrian bank accounts. Vienna has said it is willing to discuss lifting banking secrecy for foreign depositors, but not for Austrians. Austria's finance minister, Maria Fekter, insisted though that individual privacy would not be compromised.