Bloomberg News

Barnier Pushes EU-Wide Transactions Tax as 9 Nations Support It

February 08, 2012

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- European Union Financial Services Commissioner Michel Barnier urged all 27 EU nations to back a financial-transaction tax after nine countries called for speedy approval of a region-wide measure.

“Nine countries is better than two or three, but we’re not yet at 27,” Barnier told a press conference today in Brussels. “We should be able to convince people that it’s useful for all the member states of the European Union.”

France and eight other EU countries seek to introduce the transaction tax, which will cover shares, derivatives and high- frequency trading, French Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse said at a press conference. The other countries are Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Portugal and Greece.

“I don’t want to start predicting about what would happen if we’ve only got nine, or 17 or 25 who want to create this tax,” Barnier said, adding that an EU-wide measure would be “politically fair and financially feasible.” The tax could raise 57 billion euros ($76 billion) annually if implemented throughout the region, according to EU estimates.

“We should be able to convince people that it’s useful for all the member states of the European Union,” Barnier said.

An impact assessment accompanying the EU proposal in September said that the tax plan would erode gross domestic product by 0.5 percent over the “long-run.” This week, a study by Columbia University’s Stephany Griffith-Jones and Avinash Persaud, chairman of Intelligence Capital, said the tax might actually have a positive impact on long-term growth because it would reduce the likelihood of destabilizing financial crises in the future.

France and the other eight nations have sent a letter to the Danish government, current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, pressing for a region-wide transactions tax, the French Finance Ministry in Paris said late yesterday.

“France is not alone,” Pecresse said. “She is the leader and the motor in the moralization of finance.”

--With assistance from Mark Deen and Gregory Viscusi in Paris. Editors: Jones Hayden, Peter Chapman

To contact the reporters on this story: Rebecca Christie in Brussels at rchristie4@bloomberg.net; Jim Brunsden in Brussels at jbrunsden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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