Sunday

26th Mar 2017

British charity attacks billionaires ahead of Davos forum

As the world's richest and most powerful men and women prepare to meet in the Swiss resort of Davos for the annual World Economic Forum on Wednesday (22 January), the British development charity, Oxfam, has issued a new report on global inequality.

According to its findings, the wealth of the world's 85 richest people - €81.2 trillion - amounts to that of the poorest half of the world population, or 3.5 billion people.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Davos: The world's richest and most powerful people are meeting on Wednesday (Photo: World Economic Forum)

Polls for Oxfam in six countries (Brazil, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and US) show that most people questioned believe that laws are skewed in favour of the rich.

Oxfam also estimated that €15.5 trillion of the wealth is hidden from the taxman in offshore accounts, at a time when governments are cutting public spending.

"In Europe, austerity has been imposed on the poor and middle classes under huge pressure from financial markets whose wealthy investors have benefited from state bailouts of financial institutions," the charity said.

Financial deregulation in the US has contributed to the situation, in which the richest one percent of the population has more money than ever since 1933.

Billionaires in India are also 10 times more numerous than in 2004, helped by tax breaks and political connections, while spending on the country's poorest remains low.

Meanwhile, tax avoidance by EU and US corporations in Africa is depriving its governments from resources which could be used to fight poverty.

The charity said Davos participants should reverse the trend and pledge to support higher taxes for the rich, while refraining from using their wealth to seek political favours.

Davos organisers have a slightly different take on the world's most pressing issues, however.

The official topic of this year's World Economic Forum, which often attracts criticism for its pompous language, is "the reshaping of the world."

"Profound political, economic, social and, above all, technological forces are transforming our lives, communities and institutions," its agenda says.

A power shift from "traditional hierarchies" to "networked heterarchies" is taking place, it adds: "Yet the international community remains focused on crisis rather than [being] strategically driven in the face of the trends, drivers and opportunities pushing global, regional and industrial transformation."

Among listed speakers are the Crown Prince of Saudia Arabia, the vice-chairman of Google and Bono, the lead singer of Irish music band U2.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Greek bailout talks to 'intensify'

Greece and its creditors will meet in Brussels later this week to unblock negotiations needed for a new tranche of financial aid, amid concerns over the country's economic situation.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change