Tomorrow (Tuesday), the EU Finance Ministers’ meeting (called ECOFIN) will agree to proceed with a European Robin Hood Tax covering about 95% of the Eurozone by GDP. Eleven or more countries will then start negotiating the final details of the proposal (based on the draft launched by the European Commission in 2011). The only delay now possible would be if the meeting goes on longer than expected, in which case the next Council of Ministers meeting will take the decision (it doesn’t have to be an ECOFIN meeting.)
The British Government has made clear that it doesn’t want to take part (although we already have Stamp Duty on share transactions, which the EU Financial Transactions Tax would subsume), although it continues to say that they don’t mind if other countries go ahead. At least, that’s what they say in public. In private, we know they’ve been trying to bring together a blocking minority to stop the tax going ahead at all – but they have failed.
Instead, on Sunday they declared that they would be insisting the tax won’t cover transactions in the UK. This is rich, given that our own Stamp Duty applies to share transactions all over the world, as long as shares are in British companies. But it’s also likely to be whistling in the dark, because ambassadors from each European Union member state met, as the Committee of Permanent Representatives or COREPOR, on Friday, and agreed that the tax would go ahead.