23rd Mar 2018

EU financial transactions tax gets enough support to take off

  • How will the money be used - that is one of the next big questions (Photo: Images_of_Money)

A threshold-breaking eleven member states have agreed to push ahead with a financial transactions tax but the political breakthrough is tempered by a number of unanswered questions.

"Today we have received a clear and very welcome signal that there will be enough member states on board for an EU Financial Transactions Tax," EU tax commissioner Algirdas Semeta said Tuesday (9 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He promised to come forward with a decision in November but noted that at least nine countries have to formally make a request in order to trigger a legislative process for a splinter group of member states.

So far, Germany, France, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Slovenia and Greece have sent a letter to the commission in favour of the move. Italy, Spain, Slovakia and Estonia promised to do so after Tuesday's meeting of finance ministers.

"We would prefer to get the remaining letters before the middle of October," said Semeta noting that the commission both has to make an assessment of the applications as well as put forward a proposal by the promised deadline of 13 November, the date of the next finance ministers meeting.

The FTT progress is a victory particularly for French president Francois Hollande, who has been one of the most vocal supporters of this so-called Robin Hood tax. More broadly it has symbolic importance, with the agreement coming on the back of several months of discussion about the feasibility and possibility of introducing such a levy.

But still the tax remains controversial - six of the 17 euro countries are not among the pioneering group - and even where there is broad agreement, much of the detail still has to be elaborated.

It is not clear what the scope of the tax will be, such as whether it will include foreign exchange transactions.

The UK, a staunch opponent of the tax, reminded other member states that the EU treaty says that any proposal for so-called enhanced cooperation between a group of member states must not undermine the internal market.

"We want to see a specific proposal," said UK finance minister George Osborne. Poland, though taking a less hawkish line, was in agreement. "It would be good to have more detail," said finance minister Jacek Rostovski.

Semata, for his part, said that the commission could proceed on the basis of the proposal it made last year. At the time, it suggested a minimum tax rate for the trading of bonds and shares of 0.1 percent and 0.01 percent for the much larger market of derivative products (bets on currency fluctuations, mortgages, loans or even the weather).

The commissioner said participating member states could spend the money raised by the levy "where they deem appropriate" suggesting that development aid commitments could be one area.

The commission has also suggested that part of the money raised could be put towards the EU budget in return for lowering a country's automatic gross national income based contribution.

But this is a separate decision that would have to be taken a part of an overall EU budget agreement.

The commission proposal allowing the FTT group to go ahead, due in November, has to be agreed by a qualified majority of all 27 member states. The European Parliament must also give its consent.

Tax property not work, governments told

Governments should tax property and consumption ahead of income according to the Commission's 2013 Annual Growth Survey published on Wednesday.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  2. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica
  3. Russian diplomats risk EU expulsions over UK attack
  4. Three presidents should attend Bosnia memorial
  5. Trump keeps EU leaders waiting on tariffs
  6. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  7. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  8. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit