From the TUC

Latest Robin Hood news from Europe: Parliament comes off the fence in favour

27 Mar 2010, by in International

Thursday was a very busy day for the Robin Hood Tax campaign on the continent, with a tougher resolution than before in the European Parliament, the launch of an Italian campaign, and the beginnings of movement from the European Council of Ministers (ok, that meeting didn’t finish till Friday, but …). Robin Hood was even seen in Brussels!

The European Parliament, which overwhelmingly backed a resolution calling on the European Commission to study the implementation of a financial transactions tax earlier this month, finally adopted – by a wafer thin margin – a resolution which actually committed the Parliament to actually support the idea. This is a much tougher position, but it has less support than the softer version. The Development and Co-operation Committee’s resolution ‘on the effects of the global financial and economic crisis on developing countries and on development cooperation’ was carried by 283:278 with 15 abstentions. The resolution contained many proposals for funding international development, including:

“an international levy on financial transactions to make the overall tax system more equitable and to generate additional resources for financing development and global public goods, including adaptation of developing countries to cope with and mitigate climate change and its impact”

and urged

“the Commission to present a communication on how a tax on international financial transactions can, inter alia, help to achieve the MDGs, correct global imbalances and promote sustainable development worldwide”.

The Italian campaign, backed by a wide range of organisations such as the trade union confederations CGIL, CISL and UIL and by development and climate change campaigners like Attac Italia, Azione Cattolica and the World Wild Life Fund,  is called Zero Zero Cinque (or ‘zero zero five’) from the ideal rate of the tax on every financial transaction such as shares sale and acquisition, currency swaps and derivatives. Their slogan is ‘a small tax against speculation, a big resource for everyone’ to promote the idea that it won’t actually be a huge burden on big finance, but could make a massive difference for development aid, financing measures to tackle climate change (such as industry conversion etc) and other public good aims such as the fight against poverty at home and abroad.

Supporters are being asked to sign an online petition and write to the Italian Finanace Minister, Giulio Tremonti, to ask him to support the idea in the run up to the G20 in Canada. The campaign website also explains that such a small tax will not have consequences for the real economy as some detractors are concerned that if banks and financial institutions were taxed too much they wouldn’t be able to lend to SMEs for instance who are in desperate need of credit (an issue particularly felt in Italy). Nor will it negatively affect our every day savings in view of our retirement pensions, as pension funds usually have a long-term perspective on their investments, but rather it aims at deterring speculators who make lots of money on the smallest price variations on the market and in the shortest lapse of time.

Finally, the Council of Ministers held their Spring summit in Brussels on Thursday, and their final communique said this (our emphasis) – we only just snuck in, but we’re there!

“8.        Rapid progress is required on the strengthening of financial regulation and supervision both within the EU and in international fora such as the G20, while ensuring a level-playing field at the global level. Progress is particularly needed on issues such as capital requirements; systemic institutions; financing instruments for crisis management; increasing transparency on derivative markets and considering specific measures in relation to sovereign credit default swaps; and implementation of internationally agreed principles for bonuses in the financial services sector. The Commission will shortly present a report on possible innovative sources of financing such as a global levy on financial transactions.”

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