Mr Banker. You caused the crisis. Now pay for it

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Politics & economyEurope-Global


According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, 64 per cent of European citizens want a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT).

Not just to finance public services, international development and climate change but also to reduce incentives to speculate in the financial sector.

The devil is in the details though. Which financial instruments will be taxed? How will the revenues be distributed?

The European Commission proposal is progressive. It covers the taxation of most financial instruments but not spot currency transactions. The good news is that it is backed by 11 European countries.

Everybody knows the story of Robin Hood, the English folk hero who took money from the rich to give it to the poor. The FTT would function as the finance industry’s very own Robin Hood.

So far, in France, which has recently implemented a unilateral FTT, almost all the revenues have been used to compensate for budget cuts.

Only 15 per cent has been used to finance international solidarity while French aid has been reduced. This is unacceptable.

European civil society organisations and trade unions are currently campaigning for a European-wide no-exemption tax against speculators. Meanwhile, the Robin Hood Tax Campaign is trying to gather one million signatures to urge European leaders to implement the Tax.

On 19 February, a Franco-German Summit will see the two countries express their views on a European FTT.

They will either make a step towards financial stability and reduction of inequalities between and within countries – or they will listen to the banks.

France’s central bank chief has already spoken against the tax, expressing views at odds with the French electorate.

State aid figures from the European Commission show that between October 2007 and the end of 2011, European governments gave €440 billion to their banks and provided guarantees of €1.1 trillion.

The European Commission proposal for a Financial Transactions Tax across the European Union could raise €34 billion per year.

If European politicians do not listen to their citizens, at least they could do their maths.