Defend the European Robin Hood Tax
The Robin Hood Tax – known formally as the financial transactions tax or FTT – is being implemented by 11 European governments: a huge step forward in co-ordinated tax policy, if nothing else! Unions – along with anti-poverty campaigners, development NGOs, green activists and faith groups – have been supporting the tax because it will rebalance the finance sector to concentrate on long-term productive investment instead of short-term gambling on the markets. And because it will provide resources to protect public services and tackle challenges like global poverty and climate change. What’s not to like?
Well of course there are a lot of people at the top of the finance sector who like things the way they are: big fat pay packets and obscene bonuses, for a start. The finance sector and their political friends have been urging those 11 governments to slow down, create exemptions and loopholes, and even abandon the tax altogether. So now it’s time for the supporters of the Robin Hood Tax to strike back, and make sure that those governments understand that while the bankers may not like the tax, the people who matter – ordinary voters – really, really do. You can send a message to the heads of government and finance ministers of all 11 countries, as well as the key people in the European Commission.
The FTT’s opponents have taken advantage of a delay in the implementation of the tax caused by the coalition negotiations in Germany – a country where the last elections returned four parties to the parliament, all backing an FTT. But the delay the negotiations have caused have allowed the bankers to go on the offensive. Some, like Britain’s George Osborne, are taking legal action to stop the tax (the smart legal advice says he won’t win). Others take a more subtle line, suggesting an exemption here, a loophole there, undermining a tax whose main strength is how difficult it would be to avoid.
The French government is under particular assault, as the chief ally of the pro-FTT Germans, so French unions are meeting shortly to co-ordinate their lobbying with groups like Oxfam France. But it isn’t all bad news – the Croatian government that has just joined the EU has indicated it wants to join, and the main winner of the recent Czech elections is also in favour of the tax, so they might join in too. And here at home, of course, every month brings news of more local Councils backing the Robin Hood Tax (so far 31 councils in England, Scotland and Wales, covering over a tenth of the British population have signed up.)
But we do need to ramp up the pressure on the 11 governments who are already halfway along the road to implementing the tax, and the initiative taken by our friends in the Europeans for Financial Reform (EFFR) is a vital step. You can even choose the message you want to send:
Or make up your own message which will be displayed on the web site.
The EFFR is a joint campaign run by the Party of European Socialists, the European Greens, with support from the ETUC, the German, Italian and British TUCs, and a host of progressive NGOs and smaller union confederations.