17 Mar 2011

The Vote on FTTs in the European Parliament

The news for the last few days has been dominated by events in Japan (quite rightly). But there has been some movement in Europe on the taxation front. Over half a million people petitioned their MEPs in advance of a vote on the 8th of March on whether to introduce a European Financial Transaction Tax. You can find out how all the MEPs voted here. The final result was a clear majority in favour, with 360 MEPs voting for, and 299 against.

Nice to see that all but 6 of the 65 French MEPs who voted were in favour (and the numbers were similar for Germany). In contrast, 46 of the 65 UK MEPs who voted were against - wonderful.

Is that enough to get an FTT introduced? Well, given the UK government's attitude (and the attitude of the UKs MEPs), it seems horribly likely that they will veto any such proposals. And given that the Tories are financed by the City, this almost seems inevitable.

Amazingly, as far as I can tell, the vote in the European Parliament got no virtually no coverage in the UK press. Even the Guardian (to which I have a subcription) said nothing.

You can read about the vote in Accountancy Age which  reports that the CBI Brussels director Sean McGuire commented  "This would hamper the EU's long-term competitiveness as a leading centre for financial services companies, and ultimately have a negative impact on jobs and growth". But where were the rest of the press?

Fortunately, I did find a couple  of items on the BBC News channel's program "The Record" that you can see here. It includes a brief news item followed by a debate between five MEPs on the vote -
  • Markus Ferber, who leads the Bavarian Centre Right MEPs
  • Vicky Ford, British Conservative MEP
  • Gunnar Hökmark, leader of the Swedish Centre Right MEPs,
  • Philippe Lamberts, Belgian Green MEP
  • Arlene McCarthy, the British Labour MEP who wrote the Parliament's report on bank bonuses last year.
Vicky Ford wins the prize for the producing some of the lamest arguments imaginable. She said having an FTT would be like being charged 50p everytime you draw cash from a cash dispenser. I suppose it is a bit... except that instead of the 50p going to pay for bankers bonuses, the money would go to pay for education, health, pensions, jobs etc etc....

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