And Estonia makes 11

Financial Transaction Tax campaign
Financial Transaction Tax campaign (Photo credit: Leonardo Domenici)

Late yesterday, Estonia joined the 10 countries that plan on implementing a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), due to the lack of agreement on implementing an EU wide Tax.

The 11 countries who will implement the tax next year are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

According to Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso

“This tax can raise billions of euros of much-needed revenue for member states in these difficult times. [..] This is about fairness – we need to ensure the costs of the crisis are shared by the financial sector instead of shouldered by ordinary citizens.”

But where will this money go? One suggestion is that this tax revenue would go into a Eurozone budget as all 11 countries use the Euro. While Development NGOs argue that the revenue should go towards those most in need in developing countries.

The Tax this has a way to go before it comes into force, and still has to be approved by the majority of Member State’s at council level as well as the European Parliament.

The EU-wide tax was shelved following opposition from Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, who fear being at a disadvantage in the absence of a World-Wide Tax.

More states can still sign up to this, but until details on the amount of tax charged on financial transaction and where the revenue goes is agreed, it is doubtful if the number of states involved in this enhanced co-operation will increase..

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9 EU states want a Financial Transaction Tax

European Union
European Union (Photo credit: ana branca)

Nine Eurozone members want the Danish Presidency of the EU to speed up its work on a directive on a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). While there is much opposition within the Eurozone and wider EU to such a tax, the nine countries intend to use the community method to allow them to use the EU institutions to set up and administer the tax and allow other countries to join while not holding them back.

The nine countries are:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Portugal

The inclusion of Greece and Portugal is interesting as they are in receipt of an IMF/ECB/EU Bailout while Italy and Spain haver been teetering on the edge for some time.

There is opposition to an EU wide tax mainly from the UK and Sweden with Poland and Ireland also voicing unease about the plans, so do not expect these countries to join up any time soon.

The letter comes at a time during the French Presidential Election where Nicolas Sarkozy has placed a lot of faith in such a tax to win votes at home and is of course implementing the tax in France with or without the other eight countries.

Taxation remains an unanimous decision at the Council of Ministers under the Treaty of Lisbon, so even if one country opposes there will not be an EU wide tax on financial transactions.

Explaining the European Union to Students

Conseil de l'Europe
Image via Wikipedia

Today I had the joy of joining members of the European Movement Ireland in part of their schools roadshow on the European Union. Today we visited Colaiste Mhuire in Crosshaven. Leading the show was Andrea Pappin, the Executive Director, and she was joined with by Billie Sparks, the Education and Advocacy Director. I stood quiet in the coner!

We were dealing with transition year students. Andrea started off the workshop by explaining about the history of the EU and the rights we have as EU citizens. She did all this in ordinary English!

Then the main part got under way. The class were split into four groups:

  • The European Commission
  • The European Parliament
  • Council of Ministers
  • Lobby Groups

The Council of Ministers were split between the French, Irish and Polish Delegations. The Lobby Groups were split into The Nuclear Energy Association, The Irish Gas Company, The Farmers Association of Ireland.

They were then, after watching a short video on Climate Change, tasked with drafting the EU’s Energy Policy. The Commission had to choose between which should compose the majority of the sources of Energy (Fossil, Renewable, Nuclear). Once they decided, it was sent to the Parliament who, after hearing from the Lobby Groups,  decided on the percentages for each type of energy. After that it was sent to the Council of Ministers who worked out any caveats and add ons to the law.

It was interesting to see how EU law was worked out in a simplified way. That is comparison to Conor’s experience at MEU!

The students seemed to have enjoyed it and I hope they learned from it. I know I did!

Well done to the European Movement for organising this. I hope more schools take them on this.

For more information of the European Movement, do check out their website. For more information on the Roadshows check out My Vision For Europe

Many thanks to the European Movement Ireland Team for allowing me to come along and experience this.

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Euroblog Round up #1

So as an editor over on bloggingportal.eu I have great access to a huge number of blogs and can help choose what goes on the front page. Unfortunately not everything I would like can go on the front page (there are others there also) I will do a regularish posting like this one to publicise some of the other things going on in the euroblogosophere, whether on the front page or not! Dont expect this daily or weekly mind you! Its only when I have time!

New Commission

The Common Agriculture Blog thinks the new Agricultural Commissioner could get a hard ride through the Parliament

Public Affairs 2.0 have a great PDF of all the biographical details of the new Commission

Climate Change

Eberhard Rhein calls on the EU to cut emmissions by 30%

The CTA blog also tells us that the EU and ACP countries are working together at the Copenhagen Summit

3e Intelligence look at the pros and cons of a  EU Border Carbon Tax

European Council

Ralf Grahn highlights the not so transparent European Council, even though it is now an institution of the EU.

EU-Africa

The CTA blog informs us that imports from the EAC countries will now be taxed due to a delay in signing an Economic Partnership Agreement

Human Rights

Jaanika Erne on Ideas on Europe tells us a bit about Human Rights day which was yesterday.

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Von Rompuy wants a Euro Tax

So the Telegraph have a story on the fact that the new European Council President, Herman Von Rompuy, wants to bring in a new Euro Tax. This is to “bring transparency” to how the EU operates.

This hasn’t gone very smoothly for the new European Council Preisdent, and this really is his own fault! He made the announcement at a meeting of the Bildenberg Group, conspriacy theorists would know of this group very well, which isnt the most transparent of organisations, considering it meets in private.

Also the Von Rompuy seems to be overstepping the mark here. The Council cannot propose new legislation (or taxes), only the Commission can do this. While it is known that Borroso has an appetite for an EU-wide tax, but that appetite is not mirrored by the Member States. For tax all Member States must agree, and Ireland, Poland and the United Kingdom have previously voiced opposition to any such tax. Also with the election of the FDP in Germany, I can’t see them being in favour of this as they were elected on tax cuts not more taxes.

It will be next year before any such idea comes to Council (possibly year after) and by then the UK Conservatives will be in power and they will definately be against the proposal!

So in essence this is the usual euro talk that could damage Von Rompuy and maybe lessen his influence as “chairman” of the European Council?

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Bruton For European Council President?

John Bruton For President?
John Bruton For President?

Young Fine Gael is trying to launch a grassroots campaign for John Bruton to be made President of the European Council. I received the following missive from HQ.

Dear Member,

As you may know former Taoiseach and Leader of Fine Gael John Bruton is seeking election as President of the European Council.

Let’s get behind him by using the internet to spread his campaign around Europe.

SIGN THE PETITION
Please sign and forward the petition link to all your contacts throughout the 27 member states of the EU http://www.petitiononline.com/Bruton/petition.html

SUPPORTER ON FACEBOOK
Please become a supporter on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Bruton-for-EU-President/163560809402

CHANGE YOUR PROFILE PIC
For you hardcore supporters our there… Please use this pic as your profile pic on bebo and facebook www.yfg.ie/images/images/johnb.jpg

Now while a Facebook Page and Petition might get you some attention in the national media, I do not think it is going to make waves across Europe.

The thinking behind this is a little strange. Campaigns like this rarely work in Ireland, let alone across 27 countries. Would YFG not be better off asking its members to write to the Taoiseach and other EU leaders extolling the virtues of John Bruton? Would they not be better off sending us reason why we should back him? There are a few that I can think of, but why not inform the rest of us. That way we can try and convince our friends rather just blindly following due to fact he used to lead our party.

Why not tell us about all the things he has done since he stopped being a Fine Gael TD? Such as being the EU Ambassodor to the US?

This will also go nowhere due to the fact it is in one language. Why not translate the petition into German and French and maybe other EU languages and maybe also give information about Bruton in those languages so we can convince others.

I don’t think this will make much of a difference to his chances. I don’t think Angela Merkel or Nicolas Sarkozy are going to be looking on facebook for ideas of who to suggest for the poistion of President of the European Council.

Fianna Fail and the Liberals

Things aren’t looking so good for the Fianna Fail Party in their new Grouping in the European Parliament. At the last plenary session they caused hassle by abstaining on a vote on a resolution by the ALDE, Green and Socialist groups on media freedoms, this caused the vote to be lost. This has causd huge anger in the ALDE grouping.

Reports are also surfacing that the Fianna Fail MEP’s tried to scupper a resolution on Gay Rights emerging from the Liberal Grouping. This just goes to show how “liberal” Fianna Fail really are.

Brian Cowen too is facing pressure from within the Liberal Grouping of the ELDR. The ELDR currently only have 4 heads of Government on the European Council, and Cowen’s support for Tony Blair and possible support for John Bruton, is not sitting well with the ELDR leadership.

Fianna Fail have found themselves between a rock and a hard place on this occasion. Will they toe the Liberal line, or will they continue to annoy their “allies” and do their own thing. I can’t see Guy Verhostadt keeping his cool with them for too long.

More in the EU Observer

The Presidency of the European Council

There has been a lot of talk lately about the collapse of the Tony Blair candidacy for President of the European Council (see Nosemonkey’s recent post for an explanation of all those councils!). I personally am thankful for that, but Blair is still holding out and hoping to get Angela Merkel’s backing for the post. I don’t see him getting the German Chancellors backing due to the whole Iraq War debacle.

So who will get it? Paddy Power have odds up for a few politicians and Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, is currently favourite. While I think he would make a good Council President I think its time the EU stood up and appointed a woman to being the top post. With David Milliband looking likely as the Foreign Affairs portfolio, a female President would be excellent. (There is a twitter campaign for this by the way!) Paddy Power mention two women on their list, former Irish President, Mary Robinson and current Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

Mary Robinson has ruled herself out for the role, leaving Tarja Halonen the sole remaining mentioned female candidate. I am sure there are others. Julien Frisch has a post outlining why she could be a good President. She certainly has the experience!

So who will get it? If the Czech President Vaclav Klaus signs the Lisbon Treaty after the constitutional Court gives its verdict this week, there will be a special summit on the 11th and 12th of November to decide the names of those getting the new posts.

Who are you backing?

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