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European Union

MEPs vote for Robin Hood tax ahead of eurozone summit

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

The European parliament has voted overwhelmingly for a financial transactions tax as eurozone leaders gather for a summit and dinner in Brussels to discuss the region’s financial crisis. MEPs says the vote was a “strong message” to countries such as the UK that oppose the tax.

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France’s newly elected President François Hollande will join German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other eurozone for what is promised to be a no-holds-barred debate on how to tackle the crisis on Wednesday evening.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Hollande, who pledged to fight for pro-growth policies during his election campaign, favours the issuing of eurobonds, to raise finance for the bloc, and the transactions tax.

Merkel also wants the tax but, so far, has opposed eurobonds, although Italy and Spain back them.

But there were signs that compromise could be reached when European Union president Herman Van Rompuy declared that there should be “no taboos” and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Berlin would look at “all constructive ideas”.

The European parliament on Wednesday voted 487 to 152 for the financial transactions tax, although it has only a consultative voice on the question, claiming that it could raise 57 billion euros.

The parliament has backed the idea for some time and took the vote to “send a strong message to the European Council at a time when an informal summit on growth is being held”, said Greek MEP Anni Podimata.

Nine countries support the idea but others, notably Britain, oppose it on the grounds that it would drive financial services offshore.

The proposal will be discussed at a European finance minsters’ meeting in Luxembourg on 22 June, Margarethe Vestager said for the Danish presidency of the EU said.

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