Tuesday 20 March 2018

Schaeuble pushes for global bank levy as EU tax flounders

Wolfgang Schaeuble
Wolfgang Schaeuble

Rainer Buergin and Alexander Weber

After five years of fruitless talks on a European financial-transaction tax, frustrated policy makers, including Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble, are talking up the prospect of a global levy that would make sure banks pay their fair share.

If the plan sounds familiar, that's because European Union leaders tried to sell it to their partners in the Group of 20 nations in 2011 and got shot down. Since then, Mr Schaeuble and others have spent countless hours debating first a tax for the whole EU, then a scaled-down levy in 10 countries led by Germany and France.

Mr Schaeuble returned to the idea of a global tax at a meeting of G-20 finance chiefs in July, acknowledging that efforts to hammer out a compromise in Europe were "hitting a wall". With no breakthrough in sight, he spoke hopefully on Septemebr 10 of enlisting the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to push the issue forward.

"This may help us in Europe to resolve the dilemma of a good idea failing just because it won't work unless our neighbours are doing the same thing," Mr Schaeuble told reporters in Bratislava after the tax was discussed by finance ministers. "In the end this requires global regulation."

An EU-wide levy was proposed in September 2011, as a "first tangible step for taxing such transactions at the global level," according to the European Commission. Ireland, along with the UK, is opposed to the move. The EU plan for a bloc-wide tax was abandoned by mid-2012 but 11 member states opted to move ahead with the idea. That group has since reduced to 10, and if it falls below nine the plan for a formal shared policy under EU enhanced co-operation rules would have to be scrapped. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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