France is pushing for the imposition of a tax on transactions in financial markets by European Union members this year, a long-time proposal of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to government officials.
French Minister for European Affairs Jean Leonetti said in a television interview Wednesday that the issue of the controversial market tax would be discussed at an EU summit January 30, an indication France, supported by Germany, is moving faster than initially expected with the proposal.
The European Commission had been examining the imposition of such a tax in 2014.
Britain, and some other EU nations, are staunchly opposed to the new tax, which they say will curtail business on markets. London is the most important financial market in Europe and the British government is jealously guarding this premier position against anything that may diminish its importance.
At the last EU summit in December, Britain refused to sign off on a budgetary and debt-treatment package because it said it would threaten the autonomy of its markets and economic management.
Leonetti told “LCI” news channel here that the tax would be “on the programme for the next European summit”and that the French and German leaders wanted the proposal put in place by the end of 2012.
The Financial Transactions Tax was first mooted by Sarkozy as a way of reducing damaging speculation on markets. Initial earnings from the tax could be as high as USD 70 billion, but it is unclear if the opposition by several nations can be overcome.
Opponents say that operators and investors on European markets will move to other countries where there is no tax and this would make European markets less competitive.