May 16, 2017 / 10:49 AM / 2 years ago

Financial transaction tax could go into European budget: Schelling

Austria's Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling listens during a session of the parliament in Vienna, Austria, May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) - A European Union-wide financial transaction tax could be accounted for in the European budget and be offset against other national contributions, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling, who spearheads work on such a tax, said on Tuesday.

The current EU budget, totaling around 1 trillion euros, runs from 2014 till 2020. The EU is keen to consider alternative revenues, especially in view of Britain’s planned departure from the union, one of the largest contributors to its budget.

“I believe that Europe now has a window of opportunity to debate questions of European revenue,” Schelling told Austrian parliamentarians, adding that a financial transaction tax would only work if all EU states took part.

“I support the idea that one says ‘Let’s take the financial transaction tax as a contribution to the European budget and alleviate national budgets’. Then the discussion would be off the table about whether such a tax would trigger competition between the national states.”

EU states have traditionally guarded very jealously their right of veto over tax policy, especially when facing tight financial constraints.

Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said earlier this year he did not expect an agreement on the levy, whose implementation has been repeatedly delayed, in the near future and while the bloc is dealing with Britain’s exit.

It is unlikely Schaeuble will change his stance until German parliamentary elections in September.

The idea of using a financial transaction tax, among other direct revenues, to bolster the European budget also featured in a report by former European Commissioner Mario Monti.

Direct revenues currently account for about 10 percent of the EU’s budget. Such money could come from a share of national taxes and duties on electricity, motor fuel, or “other revenue stemming from EU policies”, the report said.

Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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