STRASBOURG, France, March 8 European Union
lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a call to tax financial
transactions on Tuesday and make banks pay up to 200 billion
euros ($278.3 billion) for damage they caused to the economy.
The 529-to-127 vote is non-binding but its call for
legislation will be hard for the EU's executive Commission to
"We want to send out an institutional signal saying that the
private sector bears its part of the responsibility for the
crisis," Martin Schulz, the leader of the group of legislators
from the socialists and democrats, told parliament.
The EU should push for a global transaction tax but,
"failing that, the EU should implement a financial transaction
tax at the European level as a first step", the resolution said.
The Commission should swiftly produce a feasibility study
and come forward with concrete legislative proposals, it added.
A tax that would cover transactions such as derivatives
would reduce speculation and public deficits, parliament's
A 0.05 percent tax would bring in nearly 200 billion euros
in the EU, rising to 650 billion at the global level.
France and Germany have already pushed for a global
transaction tax at the Group of 20 (G20) level, but faced
opposition from the United States and Canada.
It is often referred to as a Tobin Tax, after the U.S.
economist who promoted it in the 1970s.
A less ambitious push for an EU-level transaction tax has
made little headway so far and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's
party has suggested a transaction tax for some or all of the 17
euro zone countries as a starting point. [ID:nLDE7130N9]
A Commission official said the executive will publish its
impact assessment on taxes before the summer break.
EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta has already said the
best way to tax banks is with a global transaction tax and,
failing that, a financial activities tax at the EU level.
Britain, which has introduced what is effectively an
activities tax levied on a bank's balance sheet, is against an
EU Tobin tax.
"Imposing a tax of this nature without a global agreement
would cause some of our financial services sector to relocate,
losing the UK billions in tax revenues and costing untold jobs,"
said Vicky Ford, a Conservative UK member of the EU assembly.
Semeta is also looking at the broader issue of financial
services tax as they are exempt from valued-added tax (VAT).
He travels to Paris on Wednesday for a meeting with the
French government, currently holding the G20 presidency, to
"discuss how the Commission can support France in pushing
forward the idea of the financial transaction tax at the global
level", the Commission official said.
(Writing by Huw Jones; Editing by Rex Merrifield and David