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Financial Transaction Tax

Published on September 15, 2011
Conference at UNESCO headquarters on “Taxing financial transactions for a fairer world: here and now” – Closing speech by Henri de Raincourt, Minister responsible for Cooperation (excerpts)

Paris, September 14, 2011

We’ve persuaded our partners to organize the first G20 ministerial meeting devoted to development on 23 September.

But the needs in the area of financing international solidarity and global public goods continue to grow. So we’re under no illusions.

Official development assistance – even with a record volume of $129 billion in 2010 – will not be enough, especially as the current financial crisis is severely restricting the most advanced countries’ budgetary resources and will do so for several years. (…)

France hopes that her G20 presidency is an opportunity to make progress. The report commissioned from Bill Gates on development financing, and innovative financing in particular, will be presented at the Cannes summit. France is determined to secure an agreement on the FTT [Financial Transaction Tax].

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel referred to this clearly in Paris on 16 August. The French President had a meeting on Friday with the European Commissioner responsible for Taxation, Mr Šemeta, to discuss the outlines of such a tax. A European proposal should be made shortly. The discussions within the Euro Area in the coming months will therefore be strategic.

France is determined to lead by example, starting with a group of pioneers. Those countries who don’t join will have to explain that choice to their public.

And there’s no getting away from it: more than ever, fresh resources are necessary to curb poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world. Five years ago, when UNITAID was launched, we shared that strong belief. Today, we all share that certainty.

The campaign is making progress. Positions have changed. It’s more vital than ever for us to continue making our voice heard. But let’s not enter into the wrong debate; let’s not waste time on pointless arguments. As with every discussion of taxation, it’s legitimate in a democracy for there to be a debate on how the proceeds of that tax are allocated. I’ll fight to ensure development isn’t forgotten, and I understand your arguments in defence of health, the climate and the other urgent needs.

Today, however, we have a shared responsibility, promises to keep and new promises to make. Europe must set an example and adopt a financial transaction tax. That’s the priority. Speaking the same language is essential to being effective in our task of persuasion. This is an historic challenge we can’t fail to meet. We must all pull together to wrest an agreement on the FTT. It will make us all winners./.

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