Time to push Europe’s leaders to tax financial transactions
Larry Elliott’s Guardian piece this week was right to be sceptical about why Sarkozy or Zapatero were actively promoting financial transaction taxes at the UN this week. But he is also right that a European Robin Hood Tax is still on the table. Now is the time to step up the campaign.
Elliott points out that European leaders committed to an FTT (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany Greece and now Spain) have not managed to deliver any concrete results. And Sarkozy clearly does want this to be a left front for his re-election plans in 2011 when he will chair the G8 and G20. But progress has been made: a year ago FTTs weren’t even on the table – now, they are featuring on three consecutive ECOFIN (EU finance ministers) meetings – the second and third at the end of September and October.
Two of the three problems he raises (technical difficulties with the tax, and low expectations of the amounts raised) are dealt with in the draft IMF paper leaked at the end of August. Lack of political will is the key issue, so now is the time to step up the political lobbying.
European trade unionists (demonstrating in Belgium and Rome on 29 September, striking in Spain and Greece and so on) must use FTTs as part of our solutions. And we must all put pressure (in the UK through the Robin Hood Tax campaign) on Finance Ministers: George Osborne needs to be moved from being a block on FTTs and at least into the neutral camp.