TAXATION : FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAX: THE FRENCH BLAST THE FRENCH.

A week ahead of the Franco-German council of ministers, on 19 February, several members of the European Parliament, left-of-centre movements and NGOs urged Paris and Berlin to inject fresh impetus into plans to introduce a financial transaction tax (FTT) in the EU. They vilified France's foot-dragging on the issue.

The leader of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the EP, Austrian national Hannes Swoboda, opened fire, on 11 Febuary, by co-signing with fellow S&D member Anni Podimata (Greece) a letter calling on the German and French Finance Ministers, Christian Democrat Wolfgang Schauble and Socialist Pierre Moscovici, to be "serious" and to "act" (reading between the lines: at last) to get the issue moving again.

Eleven countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Estonia) have decided to launch enhanced cooperation to introduce the FTT, but the debate has been at a standstill for the past year. The Greek EU Presidency even decided to cancel a policy debate that the 28 finance ministers were scheduled to hold on the subject at the 18 February Ecofin Council, which says a lot about the situation.

The tone used on 12 February by participants in a press conference co-organised by French Socialist MEP Isabelle Thomas was even less diplomatic. She was accompanied by several other French and German members of the EP - Gilles Pargneaux (S&D, France), Liem Hoang-Ngoc (Greens-EFA, France), Udo Bullmann (S&D, Germany), Sven Giegold (Greens-EFA, Germany), Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE-NGL...

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