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As Eleven Nations Pledge Support, Robin Hood Tax Gains Foothold in Europe

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The European push for a financial transaction tax received a boost Tuesday following the agreement by financial ministers from eleven nations to support such a levy during a meeting in Luxembourg.

The financial transaction tax-known also as the Tobin Tax, a Robin Hood Tax, or simply FTT-would place a tiny tax on financial trades that advocates say would reduce the damaging impact of speculative and high-speed trading while at the same time raising much-needed revenue for social programs and public investment. 

The proposal, which was pushed aggressively by France and Germany, was also backed by Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain, Estonia and Slovakia.

Europe's staunchest opponents to the tax remain the UK, Sweden, Poland and others who fear that their financial markets would suffer as traders move their transactions to centers without such structures. This argument spurs FTT supporters to counter that this is why a global financial transaction tax is ultimately necessary so that the financial industry cannot duck its social responsibility by constantly moving operations to those markets with the least accountability to public service.

As the advocacy group Europeans for a Financial Reform explains: "Taxing the financial sector would enhance fairness" in nations and across the global economy. In addition to increased government revenue, which the group says is badly needed to support the transition "towards more inclusive, fairer and cleaner societies," the tax would end "purely speculative, socially useless activities" and instead "promote sustainable, long-term investments that are needed to green our economies."

"A global financial transaction tax of 0.05%," claims the group, "could yield revenue of about 1% of nominal world GDP per year." And, they argue, the revenue would provide funding for "long-term public investments, to finance global development and climate change."

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