Monthly Archives: October 2012

Fast track for Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in Europe

Posted by Robin Hood Tax

The good news just keeps rolling in to Sherwood. The 11 European countries pushing for a financial transaction tax aren’t hanging about!

The 11 countries have lodged their official request with the European Commission asking for a financial transaction tax  via the ‘enhanced cooperation’ procedure. The European Commission have this week given the green light confirming that all legal conditions have been met and that the countries can now proceed. They also indicated that part of the revenue should be spent on “growth-promoting activity or to meet development aid commitments”.

So, what next? There are now just 2 hurdles to jump before the tax will begin: it must pass a vote in the European Council and a vote in the European Parliament. This could happen as early as mid-November and for this to happen before the end of the year would be a huge success!

In the mean time, some countries aren’t waiting around. France has already started their own financial transaction tax with Portugal hot on their heels.

This exciting (and speedy) progress in Europe shows us that it is possible to ensure that banks pay their fair share. Yet still the UK refuses to back the tax – turning down billions in vitally needed new revenue especially during the times of austerity.

Keep up the pressure and ask the UK Government join the newest and merriest band in town.

Email your MP here >> 

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Breakthrough: 11 European countries unite behind a Robin Hood Tax

 

In a breakthrough moment during Tuesday’s European Finance Ministers meeting, 11 countries signed up for a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).  Europe’s biggest economies Germany and France are joined by Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia and Estonia, to take a lead in showing the rest of Europe that FTTs are more than a great idea – they are possible.

Countries across Europe are waking up to the possibility that there is a way to deal with the backlash from the financial crisis and that the banks need to pay their fair share.  Signalling a change in temperature for support of an FTT, the 11 countries surpass the threshold of 9 needed to introduce the tax using the ‘enhanced cooperation‘ method within the European Union – meaning this group can now move closer towards implementation.

The FTT is expected to raise tens of billions of Euros a year.  This revenue will be collected nationally – meaning it’s up to each individual country to decide how to spend the money. Both France and Germany, who have been spearheading the FTT, are against using the revenue for the European Union budget.  Now we must ensure the money is used to tackle poverty and climate change so the tax can truly be worthy of the name ‘Robin Hood’. Fortunately we have friends on side. France and Germany have both reiterated that part of the revenue will be spent in this way.  This was confirmed this week during a press conference when European Union Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta stated:

“…The FTT proposal is a stand-alone proposal. If introduced, the Member States can use the revenues for the purposes they may consider as most appropriate. We know that many Member States have strong commitments in terms of financing development aid.”

Head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Largarde spoke today at the International Symposium on Innovative Financing Mechanisms and Financial Transaction Tax, stating the development as “a good step in the right direction.”

A strong signal is being sent that alternative forms of finance are possible at country level, showing the UK Government that it can be done. More and more countries are looking to raise much needed revenue and take a step towards curbing casino-style banking, suggesting that London may well be left standing outside in the cold.

In response Owen Tudor, spokesperson for the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said:

“It’s great news that so many countries are uniting behind a tax that will help rein in the banks and raise billions in much needed revenue… It’s unfathomable that the UK Government can turn down billions just to protect their friends in the City whilst increasing cuts that will hit the poorest hardest.”

‘Ideas for a fairer economy’ debate hits Labour Fringe 2012

This year at Labour conference the Robin Hood Tax campaign teamed up with Compass and the Co-operative Party to put on a fringe event discussing ‘Ideas for a Fairer Economy‘. Chaired by Larry Elliott (The Guardian), the high profile panel of speakers  – Chris Leslie MP (Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury), Polly Toynbee (The Guardian), Frances O’Grady (Designate General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress), David Hillman (Stamp Out Poverty) and Neal Lawson (Compass) – drew a capacity crowd.

The panel outlined their Ideas for a Fairer Economy, and, on the back of Ed Balls pledge earlier in the day to press for an international transaction tax, the Robin Hood Tax was high up the agenda.

Much of the conversation was centred around growth – and Neal Lawson saw a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) as part of a means to deliver upon a red-green agenda that creates jobs but also ensures our environment is sustainable over the long term.

According to Polly Toynbee, “the Robin Hood Tax offers a means to reverse the death spiral of the economy, £20bn of revenue per year, and I think Labour will do it.”

The debate was interactive, with the panel fielding key contributions from the audience, as well as questions that had been sent in via twitter throughout the day. The issue of childcare was raised as of vital importance – money needs to be found to deliver free and subsidised childcare, and revenue from a FTT could be used to protect public services.

Chris Leslie MP promised that Labour were “looking hard at the nitty-gritty details of an FTT” and the party “wanted” to implement the tax.  He also urged that bankers should not exploit customers ignorance to charge unjustifiably large fees to their consumers, something that the panel and the audience approved in large numbers.

But it was the FTT that formed the standout ‘Idea for a Fairer Economy.’ Frances O’Grady summed the views of many in the room when saying an FTT would both address financial recklessness, and raise significant revenue.

David Hillman added that it was time for Labour – and all parties – to get off the fence on the issue. He argued that if £10bn of FTT revenue was earmarked for domestic purposes, some of this designated revenue could be used to capitalise for example the £40bn British Investment Bank.

The event generated plenty of discussion on twitter, and made it into Polly’s Guardian article.