Group of European Countries Push Ahead with a Robin Hood Tax
A coalition of willing countries today agreed to press ahead with plans for a European Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). Their decision came after proposals for an EU-wide tax foundered in the face of opposition from the UK and a handful of other countries.
Speaking at the EU Finance Ministers' meeting in Luxembourg on Friday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that ten countries were prepared to use the EU process known as 'enhanced cooperation' to work together to introduce the tax. The enhanced cooperation procedure requires at least nine governments to agree to work together on a proposal.
"My impression is that quite a number of member states strongly support the proposal of an FTT in principle," Schaeuble said after the meeting. "We should give it a try."
Leaders of the four big Eurozone countries, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, also expressed their support for a common Financial Transaction Tax at talks in Rome on Friday.
"I am pleased that all four here have committed to a Financial Transaction Tax," Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
She added that the tax would be welcomed because "the people in our countries have the impression that the crisis started in the financial markets and that they have not contributed enough to the solution."
French President François Hollande said the leaders would be pushing forward with the tax even without the support of all 27 EU countries. With the current proposal the countries moving forward represent 90% of the Eurozone GDP.
However, the fight isn't over - to gain popular support, a significant part of the revenues should go to people who have been hit hardest by the economic crisis in poor countries, as suggested by Presidents Hollande and Barroso this week. Using the proceeds of a new tax only for EU projects or to pay down deficits would be a betrayal of the millions who support a Robin Hood Tax. So good news for now, but still work to be done.