On Wednesday 28 September, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced the adoption of an EC proposal to implement a financial transaction tax (FTT) in all 27 members of the European Union.
The announcement follows the Commission’s earlier backing on an EU level FTT in its proposal for the bloc’s next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) on 30 June 2011.
“The movement for an FTT is really gaining momentum. We’re living in uncertain economic times, but an FTT could go a long way in hampering harmful speculation and ensuring the financial sector makes a fair contribution to fight poverty at home and abroad,” says Eva Nilsson from AfGH Brussels partner Stop AIDS Alliance. “We’re surely no longer talking about ‘if’ but ‘when’ an FTT becomes a reality in Europe.”
However, it is critical that the revenue generated by an FTT not only goes towards bolstering the EU’s own resources, as outlined in the MFF proposal, but also towards helping the bloc meet its development goals, particularly the health goals that are most off track at the moment. In today’s press conference Algirdas Semeta, Commissioner for Taxation, acknowledged the need for the EU and the Member States to keep their commitments to development including health. However, he did not clarify through which specific mechanism the money from an FTT would be allocated to this use.
“Money is needed to help tackle poverty and improve health today. Most member states are way off their aid targets, and it’s the poorest people on the planet who are being hit hardest. Several studies have proved that an EU-level FTT is capable or raising billions – money that’s desperately needed to help save lives,” said Karen Schroh, Head of Plan EU Office.
“The proposal shows that the EC is listening to citizens, who are firmly in favour of ensuring the financial sector is better regulated and makes a fair contribution to society,” added Frazer Goodwin of the European Public Health Alliance. “But the money must be used to ensure Member States keep their health and aid commitments.”
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Frazer Goodwin, European Public Health Alliance, +32 (0)2 233 3873, +32 (0)497416209
Eva Nilsson, Stop AIDS Alliance, +32 (0)2 2350912, +32 (0)489104957
NOTES TO EDITORS
The three health development goals - on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and tackling HIV/Aids, TB and malaria - are among the most off-track and face a funding shortfall of €14bn this year alone.
The possibility of imposing a financial transaction tax will be on the agenda of the G20 meeting in Cannes on 3-4 November. Bill Gates is due to present his report on innovative financing for development, which is expected to back an FTT.
To read the European Commission’s proposal on the next multi-annual financial framework, please click here.
The European Parliament has repeatedly called for the implementation of a tax on financial transactions at EU or global level, most recently on 8 March 2011. To read the resolution, please click here.
Action for Global Health (AfGH) is a network of European health and development organisations advocating for the European Union and its Member States to play a stronger role to improve health in development countries. AfGH takes an integrated approach to health and advocates for the fulfilment of the right to health for all, focusing on three specific needs: getting more money for health, making health care accessible to those that need it most and strengthening health systems to make them better equipped to cope with challenges and respond to peoples’ needs. One billion people around the world do not have access to any kind of health care and we passionately believe that Europe can do more to help change this. Europe is the world leader in terms of overall foreign aid spending, but it lags behind in the proportion that goes to health. For more information, please visit the website at www.actionforglobalhealth.eu