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29th May 2016

EU: financial tax should be used for development aid and climate

  • The European Commission wants to eradicate abject poverty worldwide by 2030. (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission said revenue from a proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) should be set aside to fight poverty and climate change, as an investment against global instability.

“I would very much want member countries really to take it seriously,” European commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (27 February).

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The FTT is backed by 11 member states and would put 0.1 percent levy on bonds and shares and 0.01 percent on derivative products. Estimated generated annual revenues could range between €30 billion to €35 billion a year.

France has already set aside existing national FTT revenue for development and Germany’s development minister Dirk Niebel has also spoken in favour of the idea.

Piebalgs said the FTT money could be used to make up for individual member state development funding shortfalls.

Germany and Italy are the two member states that have fallen the most behind in their commitments to set aside 0.7 percent of their GNI for development aid by 2015, though both have delivered some modest increases since 2011, notes anti-poverty campaign One.

France and Spain are also behind while Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have already exceeded the target.

The GNI pledges were made in 2005 and included an interim target of 0.56 percent by 2010. Current figures indicate the EU is at 0.43 percent, behind the 2010 target, or an €18 billion shortfall.

“It [FTT] is a new source of financement and that should definitely be used not to close the gap but to close our unfilled promises,” said the commissioner.

The gap refers to the wider source of financing for development to eradicate poverty, which goes well beyond the remit of official development assistance.

Unfilled promises include pulling some 1.3 billion people worldwide out of abject poverty. Around 670 million young people around the world are out of work, have no education, and little prospect of improving their livelihoods.

Coupled with the overall decline of fertile land, clean water and air, the whole, says Piebalgs, breeds instability on global proportions.

Pierre Lapaque, Regional Representative of UNODC for West and Central Africa, told this website from Dakar on Tuesday that narco-trafficking and demand for drugs in the EU is one area that has helped breed insecurity throughout the region.

Colombian drug cartels use the countries as transit routes into the EU, leaving behind a trail of criminal networks enmeshed with a corrupt political class. In the wake are new a generation of local addicts.

“West Africa is increasingly an area for drug consumption, mainly crack cocaine. We are far from just smoking pot here,” said Lapaque.

Meanwhile, member states have cut the EU development budget for the up coming seven-year multi-annual financial framework (MFF).

The European Commission proposal for long term EU spending covering the period 2014-2020 included €51 billion for development aid to the world’s poorest as well as humanitarian aid.

“From the EU budget, we channel about 18 percent of the development budget for the whole of the EU,” said Piebalgs.

If the European Parliament backs the budget cuts, member states will have to increase their own development budgets, noted the commissioner.

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