Manfred Nolte on Financial Transaction Taxes

viernes, 1 de junio de 2012

Wahl en 'Newsletter EU, Mayo 2012'

New push for FTT through François Hollande
By Peter Wahl, WEED
The election of François Hollande as the next French president brings new momentum to the process of achieving a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in Europe. During his electoral campaign Hollande expressed his strong support for stricter regulation of financial markets in general and for the introduction of an FTT in particular on several occasions. He already raised the issue at the G8 summit in Camp David (18-19 May 2012).
Hollande is also proposing a European Growth Pact in addition to the austerity measures which had been adopted in the Fiscal Pact in March 2012 (see previous newsletter). Germany will have to compromise on this and accept some stimulus measures (see the article about the Euro crisis in this newsletter). Therefore, fresh money has to be found and the FTT is the first option for providing it.
The FTT is also a project upon which France and Germany have consensus. Against the background of their divergences on several other issues, both governments will be interested to bring the common interests to the fore.
The domestic balance of power in Germany is also shifting in favour of the FTT. As Merkel needs a two-third majority in the parliament for the adoption of the Fiscal Pact, the German opposition parties, SPD (Social Democrats) and the Greens, have declared that they would link their support for the European Fiscal Pact to the adoption of a Growth Pact á la Hollande and the FTT.
In May 2012 the European Parliament (EP) adopted a report in support of the European Commission’s draft directive on the FTT, with a broad majority. Although this is not binding it has a political impact, in particular as it demands the implementation of the FTT in the framework of Enhanced Cooperation in case there is no unanimity at the level of the EU 27. This means that a minimum of nine member countries have to support the initiative (‘coalition of the willing’). It could then be implemented in the framework of EU legislation in these countries. Of course, the big economies next to France and Germany, i.e. Italy and Spain, would have to be part of the Enhanced Cooperation.
Tactical manoeuvres of the German Finance Ministry
This general trend dispels the recent fears of civil society as well as the contrasting hopes of the financial sector (who has been lobbying fiercely against it – as described by Corporate Europe Observatory), that the whole project would be watered down extensively, or even rejected as a whole. These hopes and fears were nourished by a German room paper, presented at an informal meeting of finance ministers in Copenhagen and in a working group meeting of the European Council, in which Berlin presented a ‘two step approach’. In a first step, a tax similar to the British Stamp Duty would be introduced and in a second one it would be extended to the proposal of the EU Commission from September 2011 (see this pdf). But the UK did not give up its hardliner opposition and the attempt to still reach a compromise with London has definitively failed. Against the background of the UK resistance, the German push was more of a tactical manoeuvre to isolate London than a real move to give up the substance of the FTT.
Next steps
As the FTT in the EU-27 is impossible as a result of the British veto, the only way forward is Enhanced Cooperation. Before
this option can be decided on, the failure of the Commission’s EU-27 directive has to be declared officially. It is expected that this will be done in the coming months, perhaps already before 2012 summer break.
Once the decision is taken, it will, however, still last one to two years until the project enters into force, because the decision at the EU level still has to be translated into national legislation, a time consuming procedure. Nevertheless, a happy end seems to be in sight for the FTT in Europe.
No Hungarian FTT
During the first weeks of May 2012, rumours surfaced hinting that Hungary would introduce an FTT. Hungary is deeply in crisis and desperately looking for new sources of revenue, while the IMF and the EU have threatened to stop financial support.
Given the extremely nationalist and right- wing populist regime in Budapest it would have been quite difficult for civil society, who are in favour of an FTT, to have this government as an ally. Budapest is indeed introducing a new tax. Although it is called Financial Transaction Duty, it has nothing to do with the FTT. According to the Ministry of National Economy, the duty will be levied at a rate of 0.1% on certain non-cash payments, such as postal cash or bank transactions of private and corporate customers, bank transfers, direct debit mandate payments and bank card purchases. This tax has no intention of regulation of financial markets but simply aims to cash in from ordinary people as well as from corporations. 

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