Today, S&D Euro MPs expressed their bewilderment and severe disappointment with the news that the French minister of finance Bruno Le Maire intends to indefinitely postpone the introduction of a European financial transaction tax (FTT) in ten EU countries. Moreover, Minister Le Maire even declined the invitation of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers Inquiry Committee for a special hearing where his colleagues from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Ireland participated.

S&D Group vice-president and S&D Group spokesperson for economic and monetary affairs Udo Bullmann and Pervenche Berès said:

“France has made a full U-turn from a key ally in the fight for the introduction of an FTT to a foot-dragger. This is really disappointing.

“Yesterday, President Macron wanted to use the FTT returns to finance the ecological transition and a modern development co-operation. Today his finance minister is bowing before the banking lobby. The S&Ds clearly object to such somersaults.

“We call for concrete steps in the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion as well as for a meaningful agenda for a fairer economic order. Whoever does not go along with this plan should not rely on our support. Anyone who claims to be on the side of progressive politics must also be prepared to take appropriate steps - if necessary against the resistance of powerful lobbying interests. Finance Minister Le Maire must now prove whether he wants to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

“The financial transaction tax must not be derailed. The hardship caused by the financial crisis of 2008 has shown clearly that harmful speculation needs to be curbed and that the financial industry must contribute to the immense cost of the crisis. Those blocking the introduction of such a tax seem keener to serve special interests than to make Europe's economy more stable and equitable.

“The European Parliament called for a financial transaction tax as early as in March 2010 - with a majority of no less than 78%. Eventually, the European Commission answered this call. In September 2011, it presented a proposal for a directive for adoption by the Parliament; paving the way for enhanced co-operation between member states. Since then, five painfully long years have passed, in which conservative and liberal finance ministers have sabotaged the financial transaction tax project at every occasion.”

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