Greek Prime Minister backs Robin Hood Tax
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou spoke to the World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) this afternoon. Although he is presiding over huge, unpopular cuts in the Greek welfare state, it was the Greek trade union movement that asked for him to speak, because in ITUC President Sharan Burrows’ words, “he above all knows what it is like to run a government in the eye of the storm.”
He called explicitly for the 0.05% financial transactions tax proposed by trade unions and NGOs, which he claimed could raise €240bn across the EU.
“We could make poverty history, tackle climate change and make a new world”, he said, “So what is stopping us?” He denied the claim that Greece’s problems were caused by a lavish welfare state, but by economic mismanagement by the previous conservative government. “I am neither for or against markets, or for or against government but for regulated markets and openness in government,” he said. Markets should serve the people, not the other way round.
He also condemned those governments whose economies are “competitive in the short-term but unsustainable long-term” because of environmental degradation and low wages.