At their Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday, European Leaders agreed that “Member States should introduce systems of levies and taxes on financial institutions to ensure fair burden-sharing and to set incentives to contain systemic risk”.
This goes further than the idea of a simple bank levy that seemed to be gathering momentum. Such a levy would not have raised much cash and was not enough to tackle underlying problems in financial markets – just to create a fund to bail us out next time things would inevitably go wrong.
But it’s not quite time to put out the bunting yet. Look closer and the language is advisory – there are a commission study and inevitable wrangling among member states between this aspiration for taxes and putting them into practice. There is also no mention of using the money to tackle poverty or climate change.
Nevertheless, the momentum gathering behind ideas to tax finance, and the growing acceptability of Robin Hood taxes is impressive and significant (and something our campaigners can take some credit for!).
There is an opportunity at next week’s G20 summit to build on this success and to reach a global agreement to coordinate a package of financial sector taxes.
The UK can take a lead with a Robin Hood budget tomorrow. You can help to make sure this happens, by clicking here: http://www.cafod.org.uk/news/budget-2010-06-17