Robin Hood Tax arrives for the common good in Europe

May 15, 2014
Public Services International welcomes the landmark news that 10 EU countries have agreed to introduce a financial transactions tax (FTT), also known as a Robin Hood Tax. PSI and our affiliates are proud to be working with civil society allies at the forefront of the global movement for tax justice, which includes campaigning for the FTT to end poverty and inequality by funding quality public services.

David Hillman of campaign partner Stamp Out Poverty shares this report:

In a historical agreement, 10 states sealed the deal for the introduction of Financial Transaction Taxes (FTTs) in a heated session at the meeting of European Finance Ministers on 6 May. George Osborne bristled as the countries led by Germany and France set out that FTTs would be introduced in stages, starting with shares and some derivatives, with revenue beginning to roll in next year.

The EU’s Tax Commissioner, Algirdas Semeta, addressing the televised session made explicit reference to the vast backing of European citizens for the FTT, informing ministers that testament of this was the Robin Hood Tax action that was currently going on to the assembled press outside. The stunt celebrating the victory of Robin Hood was set in a boxing ring where Robin had the banker on the ropes to the cheers of the crowd but had yet to get his hands on the prize money still being held by Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s President Hollande.

This accurately mirrors where the campaign has reached. A great step forward has been secured with the political agreement of the 10 countries to proceed but we still have much work to do to translate this into ‘Robin Hood’ spending to protect jobs, boost employment and improve and save lives in poorer parts of the world.

With the likes of Germany, France, Italy and Spain storming ahead, what of the UK? Well, the behavior of our Government has been depressingly negative – trying to stop the FTT pioneer countries proceeding by means of a legal challenge. We are delighted to let you know that on 30 April the European Court of Justice threw out the UK’s legal challenge, paving the way for the following week’s historic progress. This is a major and embarrassing setback for Chancellor Osborne and a rebuke for championing the interests of the financial sector over the interests of Britain as a whole. Not only was this action ill-timed, misjudged and futile, it will also prove an expensive waste of taxpayer’s money as the Court ruled that legal costs relating to the case must be borne by the UK.

The UK Chancellor may not be on Robin’s side, but many, many others are:

Together, let’s make this the most popular tax in history!

With support for the Robin Hood Tax snowballing amongst UK citizens and Councils; the growing backing of financial experts; the failure of the UK Government to block progress; and a first stage of the FTT being agreed by 10 European countries, we are making real progress - but we still have a long way to go to get the tax we’ve been fighting for!

We need to ensure that we achieve the strongest, broadest tax possible in Europe, covering as many assets as possible and with no legal loopholes for the financial sector to exploit. We also need to ensure that the money goes to the right places: to protect jobs and public services, to meet commitments to clean water, health and education in developing countries and to combat the challenges of climate change. And we need to use the FTT progress on the European mainland to change hearts and minds in the UK, persuading political parties in the run-up to our general election in May next year that the time for the Robin Hood Tax is now.

Help us get to 1 million voices for the Robin Hood Tax - we have now secured 700,000 – please get two people you know to sign so that we can broadcast to the world’s media that the Robin Hood Tax is the most popular tax in history! With your help, we can do it!

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