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22/01/2013 14:54  RssIcon

Group of EU countries push ahead with tax

The EU has voted to allow members states who wish to introduce a tax on financial transactions to do so, an issue on which Ethical Consumer has long campaigned.

The vote will enable Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia to press ahead with a tax on trading.

The financial transaction tax will be based on the 2011 proposal submitted by the European Commission, comprising a 0.1% tax on shares and bond transactions plus a 0.01% tax on derivatives trades.

The European Parliament has already voted overwhelmingly in favour of the tax in December 2012.

Campaigners who have long lobbied for the tax believe that the tax could raise up to 37 billion Euros a year, although estimates vary widely.

War on Want hailed the vote as a 'major victory' for anti-poverty campaigners.

War on Want’s Executive Director John Hilary said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the long battle to secure a financial transaction tax in Europe. Not only will the tax raise considerable sums of money for use in the fight against poverty, but it will also provide a mechanism to stabilise the trading system in future. At last the banks can start to repay some of their debt to European society.”

The decision has been described as "symbolically important in showing that politicians, who have fumbled their way through five years of financial crisis, are getting to grips with the banks blamed for causing it."

Britain, which abstained from the vote, has criticised the tax and will not adopt it. However London, Europe’s biggest financial centre, will still be affected. If either the buyer or seller in a trade is based in one of the countries imposing the tax, the levy can be imposed regardless of where the transaction takes place.

The tax's proponents, including German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, believe it can tackle activity many deem speculative, such as high-frequency trading, by imposing a charge on every split-second deal.

 

 

 

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