EU Parliament Approves Robin Hood Tax Study

11 March 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today hailed a vote in Strasbourg demanding that the European Commission conduct an assessment of the feasibility and impact of introducing a financial transaction tax at EU level.

The move follows pressure from various campaign groups, including the "Robin Hood tax" group to implement a charge on financial transactions, also known as a "Tobin tax".

The Parliament voted by 536 votes to 80 against to approve the resolution.

The idea in principle is that a 'small charge' be levied somehow on financial transactions, and in so doing generate an additional source of taxation income as well as fulfil an ambition of curbing speculation.

The SNP has a long standing policy in support of the Tobin tax in principle, subject to a workable model being produced. The Parliament's Resolution takes the production of that model a step closer.

Speaking after the vote, Smith said:

"I think the financial crisis demonstrated that we need to take a fresh sheet of paper and any ideas should be explored. The Tobin tax has been floating around as an idea for long enough, it is high time someone serious looked into it with a view to putting some flesh on the bones of the idea and take it from beyond theory to something that we could actually implement.

"I'm personally agnostic on whether this would work or not, as while I like the idea in principle, as a financial lawyer by background myself I too have more questions than answers in terms of how we would actually make it work. But that certainly does not mean we should not look into it, as it could just be a powerful addition to the world's public finances at a time of crisis, as well as a way of taking the heat out of the financial markets.

"It should be stressed that this vote today does not mean that the Parliament has approved the tax, it means that we have obliged our civil servants and experts in the Commission to come up with a working model and an economic impact assessment of what it would do and how it would work in practice. Never has a legislature taken such a step, and this work will bring the Tobin Tax closer to being implemented than ever before."