Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Lobbying to kill off Robin Hood

Big banks and financial companies are doing their best to stop the introduction of a financial transaction tax (FTT) in the European Union. A proposal for an FTT is on the table, but still has to be approved by the Council. The industry has put all its lobbying machinery to work, implementing a scaremongering strategy, to convince member states to reject the tax. There is a real risk that their lobbying will pay off, either by defeating the entire idea of taxing transactions, or by watering down an already timid proposal.

  • Dansk
  • Nederlands
  • English
  • Suomi
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Ελληνικά
  • Italiano
  • Bokmål
  • Polski
  • Portuguese
  • Română
  • Slovenščina
  • Español
  • Svenska

A financial transactions tax, commonly dubbed a “Robin Hood tax”, is a simple tax on all  financial transactions. Since the ATTAC-movement and the tax justice movement picked up the issue more than a decade ago, the popularity of the idea has grown steadily. It now looks as though it might be possible to introduce such a tax in a large area in Europe. Many groups have called for such a tax to be introduced at a global level in order to collect money for development or for the fight against climate change.



The EU's proposal does not have such global ambitions, but is  intended  to discourage speculation and create a new revenue stream. At a time when citizens are keen for the financial sector to contribute to the costs of the crisis, some European leaders have started to push for an FTT at an EU level. The European Parliament has also pledged its support and the Commission, which was previously reluctant, has finally put a proposal on the table.



Throughout all this process, big banks and financial companies have been lobbying hard to try to stop the FTT or at least water it down. There is a lot of money at stake, so they are using all their tools: privileged access to the political powers, threats to relocate, scaremongering and the selective use of data... And although it may seem that they are losing the battle, the war is not over yet.  The FTT still needs to be approved by the Council.



The industry has been lobbying, not only in the EU, but also at the national level, to convince member states to reject a financial transactions tax. Some governments have already declared whose side they are. The UK  stated early on that it would veto the proposals and Sweden  is also opposed. Some Eurozone countries, such as Ireland  and The Netherlands are also reluctant, while France and Germany have become its main champions, and together with seven other EU countries, including Spain, Belgium and Greece, have signed a letter to the Danish EU presidency in support.



Nothing has yet been decided, but with this division it seems unlikely that an agreement will be reached, either at the EU or at the Eurozone level. Some voices are already calling for alternatives and it is becoming more and more likely that a watered down tax may be put forward, perhaps a little like the stamp duty reserve tax in the UK, which is a tax on shares, but not a real transaction tax. Campaigners say this would be a lost opportunity to make real change in order to curb speculation and regulate a dangerously deregulated financial sector which led the EU to the current crisis.

 

Read the full report below.

Attached files: 
A financial transactions tax, commonly dubbed a “Robin Hood tax”, is a simple tax on all  financial transactions. Since the ATTAC-movement and the tax justice movement picked up the issue more than a decade ago, the popularity of the idea has grown steadily. It now looks as though it might be possible to introduce such a tax in a large area in Europe. Many groups have called for such a tax to be introduced at a global level in order to collect money for development or for the fight against climate change.The EU's proposal does not have such global ambitions, but is  intended  to discourage speculation and create a new revenue stream. At a time when citizens are keen for the financial sector to contribute to the costs of the crisis, some European leaders have started to push for an FTT at an EU level. The European Parliament has also pledged its support and the Commission, which was previously reluctant, has finally put a proposal on the table.Throughout all this process, big banks and financial companies have been lobbying hard to try to stop the FTT or at least water it down. There is a lot of money at stake, so they are using all their tools: privileged access to the political powers, threats to relocate, scaremongering and the selective use of data... And although it may seem that they are losing the battle, the war is not over yet.  The FTT still needs to be approved by the Council.The industry has been lobbying, not only in the EU, but also at the national level, to convince member states to reject a financial transactions tax. Some governments have already declared whose side they are. The UK  stated early on that it would veto the proposals and Sweden  is also opposed. Some Eurozone countries, such as Ireland  and The Netherlands are also reluctant, while France and Germany have become its main champions, and together with seven other EU countries, including Spain, Belgium and Greece, have signed a letter to the Danish EU presidency in support.Nothing has yet been decided, but with this division it seems unlikely that an agreement will be reached, either at the EU or at the Eurozone level. Some voices are already calling for alternatives and it is becoming more and more likely that a watered down tax may be put forward, perhaps a little like the stamp duty reserve tax in the UK, which is a tax on shares, but not a real transaction tax. Campaigners say this would be a lost opportunity to make real change in order to curb speculation and regulate a dangerously deregulated financial sector which led the EU to the current crisis. Read the full report below.
 
Newly-released documents show that as far as financial regulation is concerned, lobbyists are besieging the Commission – which has an open door policy towards them. Can the new Commission fare better? And why is its prospective commissioner responsible for this area, Jonathan Hill, a former financial lobbyist?
The announcement today that Jean-Claude Juncker, president-elect of the European commission, will hand responsibility for financial services to Jonathan Hill compounds CEO's view that British PM David Cameron should withdraw his nomination of Hill.
The new European Parliament is only weeks old and already three ex-MEPs from perhaps its most important committee have taken a spin in the revolving door to join the private sector. It's clear that the code of conduct for MEPs needs urgent reform.
A leaked document shows the EU Commission is spearheading a campaign for the interests of the financial sector at the negotiations with the US on a free trade and investment agreement (TTIP).
The new LobbyFacts website allows EU lobby register data to be sorted, compared, ranked and analysed and exposes extent of lobbying in Brussels.
Attac Austria and Corporate Europe Observatory are today launching new 'wanted posters' about prospective members of the new European Commission, to expose details of their corporate backgrounds or other aspects of their careers which make them unsuitable to act as commissioner and promote the interests of 500 million European citizens.
Statement by civil society organisations on regulatory cooperation in TTIP.
The EU Commissions' proposals on "regulatory cooperation" poses a threat to regulation that protect our healt, the environment and our welfare - and they are a threat to democracy. Read the beginners guide to regulatory cooperation from Corporate Europe Observatory, LobbyControl and Friends of the Earth Europe.

Corporate Europe Forum