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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Climate Change: A letter to EU Leaders

Taoiseach Brian COWEN, Fredrik REINFELDT, President of the European Council, and José Manuel BARROSO, European Commission President and others

I am writing to urge you to do all that you can to ensure the crucial EU Council meetings at the end of October deliver clear EU commitments to deal with climate change. These must put the needs of the world’s poorest people – who are being hit first and worst by climate change, but who are least responsible for causing it – at their core.

The Council meetings at the end of October provide the opportunity to finally agree an EU position: this may be your last chance to agree firm commitments ahead of the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December. The right EU offer in October can set the global talks ahead of Copenhagen alight, and give us all the best possible chance of tackling the climate crisis.

To do this the EU must commit in October to:

* providing an additional €35bn per year by 2020, to help poor countries to adapt to the effects of climate change and to develop in a low-carbon way. Not only does the EU have a historical obligation to do this, but it has the money to finance it.

* guaranteeing that the money generated from the laws you and your fellow European leaders agreed last year, requiring heavy industries in Europe to pay for their carbon pollution, will be directed straight to the people that need it most in tackling climate change. This money is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions raised to bail out banks since last year.

* crucially, this €35bn must be new public money, not taken away from existing aid commitments. The response to climate change should not come at the expense of investments in vitally needed services in poor countries, such as hospitals and schools.

* agreeing a target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions strong enough to avoid catastrophic climate change. This too is vital to break the deadlock in negotiations in the lead up to Copenhagen. The EU should agree a reduction of 40%, from 1990 levels, to be achieved by 2020.

I urge you to do all you can to ensure the EU takes this month’s vital opportunity to make these firm commitments on climate change. Failure to help poor countries adapt to climate change and develop in a low-carbon way, and to prevent future catastrophic climate change, is simply unthinkable.

The above is a letter sent by me as part of an Oxfam International campaign on Climate Change. You can send you own letter by visiting Oxfam’s website and filling in the details

More about the Oxfam campagn:

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Deadlock in the New Parliament?

Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt.
Image via Wikipedia

The newly elected Parliament looks set to become deadlocked over the nomination of the next European Commission President.

Jose Manual Barrosso has the backing of the EPP, and thats about it. The new European Conservative grouping could be persuaded to back him too. I doubt they could persuade Ind/Dem to back him publicly but they may vote for him.

The other candidate Guy Verhofstadt has the backing of GUE/NGL, Greens-EFA, PES ASDE and ALDE.

Unfortunatley neither side have a majority in the Parliament.

This could mean a very long summer of talking and such to try and cobble together a majority or it could mean a compromise candidate with which no one will be 100% happy with.

Now I’m not sure if I want to see Barrosso re-elected. I have read a few things lately from him that I wasn’t happy reading.

Now I’m not sure if I want Verhofstadt elected either, mainly as hes a leftist candidate.

Its going to be a long summer, and I don’t think I’ll be happy with who ever is elected President of the Commission. I wonder will the Parliament feel the same?

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It finally gets interesting: Barroso Vs Verhofstadt

I was giving out during the election campaign that the PES didnt have a candidate for Commission President. Despite the fact the PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen wants the job, its looking highly unlikely that he will not be the PES nominee.

Instead the Greens, ALDE and PES look set to team up to try and get former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt elected as Commission President according to euractiv.com instead of  José Manuel Barroso. Verhofstadt’s party the Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Flemish Liberals and Democrats) is part of the ALDE and looks set to be the their nominee.

This makes things interesting as the Commission President has to be elected by the European Parliament in a secret ballot. A combined vote of the PES, Green and ALDE grouping would be 294 votes, which is short of a majority.

Of course the ALDE is itself divided on the nomination as it is a small group it cannot hope to hold Commission President and Presidency of the European Parliament, which its leader Graham Watson wants.

Shuttle diplomacy is underway across European capitals to try and get support for nominations of both candidates, but it dosent look like Barroso’s re-election is assured as it was.

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