Sunday 21 December 2014

Finance tax given go ahead as Ireland and UK opt out

Colm Kelpie Brussels

Published 23/01/2013 | 05:00

Eleven eurozone countries including France and Germany are in

ELEVEN eurozone countries have been given the green light to press ahead with plans for a tax on financial transactions.

The economically powerful countries of France and Germany are among the states in favour of the levy, while Ireland and the UK have opted out.

Europe's tax commissioner Algirdas Semeta hailed the decision, taken at the Ecofin meeting of Europe's finance ministers, as a "major milestone". "This is highly significant and very welcome advance," Mr Semeta said.

"Today is also a milestone in global tax history. For the first time ever, the financial transaction tax will be applied at regional level."

The countries in favour of the tax include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Mr Semeta said he would encourage any member state that is considering the FTT to sign up.

"There is everything to gain from being part of an EU approach to a financial transactions tax," he said.

He said the Commission was ready to act swiftly on the green light given yesterday.

Mr Semeta, the commissioner responsible for taxation and customs union, audit and anti-fraud, said he would present the "substantive proposal" on the FTT within the coming weeks.

Ireland has ruled out any participation in the FTT as long as countries like Britain remain opposed.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said the move could lead to finance jobs moving to a country that didn't have the tax, thereby threatening Ireland's financial services sector if it signed up to it.

Under EU rules, a minimum of nine countries can co-operate on legislation using a process called enhanced co-operation as long as a majority of the EU's 27 countries give their permission.

Irish Independent

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