This week is a big one for the Robin Hood Tax, with major developments in the USA and Europe. Despite regular reports of its demise – the result of spinning by opponents in the finance industry – the prospects for a Robin Hood Tax being implemented are stronger than ever.
In the UK, supporters of fair taxation, of rebalancing the manufacturing and finance sectors, and those worried about the Government’s commitment to overseas aid and tackling climate change will be redoubling their efforts to secure a Robin Hood Tax. And ahead of the NATO summit in Chicago this weekend, US union National Nurses United will lead a demonstration to Daley Plaza to call on the US Government to tax Wall Street not Main Street. Unions and NGOs in the US are gearing up for the launch of a Robin Hood Tax campaign to influence the debate around the Presidential election in the autumn.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s hedge fund career and events like this week’s revelation of huge losses at JP Morgan Chase have put the financial sector’s misdeeds on the electoral agenda, and will encourage further debate about how to tax the sector more effectively, continuing the earth-shaking debate started by Occupy Wall Street and Warren Buffett.
In Europe, the Commission proposal for a financial transactions tax directive will take another step forward next week when the European Parliament debates and votes on a report on the directive from its Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. The Committee has already adopted its report in favour of the directive, and the Parliament is likely to approve the measure, albeit proposing further strengthening in line with campaigners’ proposals to make it more difficult to avoid the tax.
And on the same day as the European Parliament votes on the tax, an informal summit of EU heads of government will consider a new approach to growth in the EU, responding to the shift in political narratives away from pure austerity. This summit is also a response to the election of FTT-supporting French President Francois Hollande, and he has explicitly put the tax on the agenda for the summit.
German campaigners have already started, staging a mock marriage between Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande ahead of their meeting on Tuesday to emphasise the fact that the FTT is one measure they can agree on.
Robin Hood Tax campaigners will be out in force around the world and on the web. The PCS conference in Brighton next week will see tax collectors and DFID staff donning Sherwood green on the seafront to show their support, and at the G20 employment ministers’ summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, trade unionists from the world’s twenty biggest economies will demonstrate their commitment to making the finance sector pay its fair share to get the global economy back on track. And in Europe, campaigners will join an ETUC rally outside the EU summit and submitting a letter urging those EU leaders committed to introducing a tax to go it alone if Governments like our own continue to resist an EU-wide tax.
It’s a big week indeed for such a tiny tax.
Owen Tudor is head of the TUC’s European Union and International Relations Department.