LIFESTYLE

EU's 27 leaders discuss beefing up fight against tax evasion, energy policy

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy smiles as he faces the cameras upon arrival at an EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.  Leaders from the 27 European Union countries gather in Brussels for one of their regular European Council sessions. On the agenda is the increasingly controversial subject of large corporations’ creative tax avoidance schemes. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Scagnetti)

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy smiles as he faces the cameras upon arrival at an EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Leaders from the 27 European Union countries gather in Brussels for one of their regular European Council sessions. On the agenda is the increasingly controversial subject of large corporations’ creative tax avoidance schemes. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Scagnetti)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union's leaders are seeking to advance their fight against tax evasion and close loopholes for large corporations' creative tax avoidance schemes.

European officials say tax evasion costs the 27-nation bloc an estimated 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) per year.

The bloc's 27 heads of state and government will focus on tax issues at their four-hour-summit in Brussels Wednesday after finance ministers last week failed to agree on an automatic exchange of banking information between all EU countries to catch tax evaders.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the EU has to be sure "that companies pay taxes and that means international collaboration."

Leaders were expected to try to sway Austria and Luxembourg, who vetoed the initiative, into giving up on their prized banking secrecy laws.