November 9, 2015 / 8:35 AM / 4 years ago

France wants financial transactions tax accord in Brussels

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin gives a news conference at the 2015 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru, October 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

PARIS (Reuters) - France wants an agreement on a financial transactions tax (FTT) struck on Monday after a meeting of euro zone finance ministers, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

“We have done most of the technical work. I think the time has come to make a decision,” Sapin told reporters.

“We can’t just drag our feet month after month,” he said. Austria is playing a very constructive role, he said, and a majority of 11 countries backing the plan is willing to press on with the tax.

Smaller countries such as Slovakia, Estonia and Slovenia were proving more reluctant, however, Sapin said.

Germany and France proposed the tax in 2012, in the midst of the euro zone debt crisis. As much a political symbol as an effort to correct the excesses blamed for the worst financial turmoil in decades, it has been debated ever since.

Only 11 of the 28 countries of the European Union accepted in principle to introduce a European FTT, which would complement similar levies already in force in some European countries, such as Germany.

A common FTT would avoid tax competition among European countries, the supporters of the project claim.

Britain, home to Europe’s largest financial sector, has long opposed the tax, fearing it would cause unnecessary damage to the financial industry.

Sapin said France wanted the widest possible base and small amounts for the tax to avoid market distortions and that technical measures were being devised to avoid most relocations of transactions.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Brian Love and Ralph Boulton

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