Growing coalition urges EU finance ministers to move on a Financial Transaction Tax

A broad coalition calling for an European-wide Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) staged an action outside the meeting of EU Finance Ministers today (7 September), in Brussels. The group, made up of NGOs, political organisations and trade unions, called on EU Ministers to recognise the merits of an FTT, particularly as austerity measures begin to be felt throughout the EU.

The coalition was concerned about the European Commission ‘non-paper’ tabled for discussion by Tax Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta and urged Ministers to dismiss its negative assessment. Whereas the EC document questions the feasibility of an FTT without giving detailed reasons, a leaked paper by the International Monetary Fund and leading economists do state this sort of tax is possible.

The coalition staged an action to represent what is at stake, pitting greedy bankers against actors representing the developing world, workers in Europe and the environment. Some 200 billion Euros could be raised from an EU-wide transaction tax, according to the Austrian Institute of Economic Research. Campaigners believe that part of this money should support public services at home, fight overseas poverty and fight climate change.

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Elise Ford, Head of Oxfam’s EU Office, said: “It’s brutally unjust that the poorest people on earth are made to pay the price for bankers’ greed through cuts in schools or life-saving medicines. A tax on financial transactions would make the banks foot the bill for the misery they have caused.”

Daniel Pentzlin, campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “It is time for a new tax system where we tax what we want to reduce: pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, unsustainable production as well as excessive speculation. The finance sector, making billions each year, must contribute its fair share to the costs of climate protection and the urgently needed transformation of our economies towards a low resource society.”

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of European Socialists (PES), on behalf of Europeans for Financial Reform, said: “It is simply not feasible for conservative finance ministers to complain about the deficit and then to refuse an entirely feasible way of generating new revenue. The Financial Transaction Tax is urgently needed”.

Coalition representatives will be meeting in the afternoon of 7 September to coordinate and plan the next stages of the joint campaign.

Notes to editors:
  • A financial transaction tax (FTT) – or “Robin Hood Tax” – would make a significant contribution to preventing cuts in public services, tackling climate change and reducing global poverty
  • Even at very low rates of 0.05% or less, this tax could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually for domestic and international projects and would cost governments and ordinary citizens nothing.
  • The stunt is coordinated by a broad coalition of environmental, social, health, faith and trade-based citizens’ organizations – including Oxfam, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Friends of the Earth Europe, SOLIDAR, 11.11.11, Europeans for Financial Reform, CIDSE, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour.

Udo Bullman MEP (Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Finance spokesperson) “We need a financial transaction tax to make financial gamblers pay for the crisis they caused. A financial transaction tax will increase the price for financial speculation and create scope for future investments. This helps to prevent new crises and to tackle the real problems of the world. If there is no progress made at the global level in this respect, Europe needs to act on its own.”

Philippe Lamberts MEP (co-spokesperson of the European Green Party) “Today’s action is part of a campaign supported by a growing number of allies. The increasing number of NGO’s and political organisations supporting calls for a financial transaction tax, underscore that this issue cannot be swept under the carpet”.

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