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Scholz: Timing is good for EU financial transaction tax

An EU-wide tax on financial transactions should finally become reality as the bloc seeks to fill the hole in its budget left by Britains departure, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine published on Saturday.

Scholz also expressed confidence that Italys new populist government would be pro-euro and suggested its economic policies would be constrained by financial reality. And he expressed support for the creation of a eurozone-wide unemployment insurance system.

Previous attempts to introduce a financial transaction tax have floundered but Scholz said the “timing is good” for considering such a measure as the EU negotiates its budget for the years 2021-2027.

“There is a significant revenue shortfall because the U.K.s financial contributions will soon be missing because of Brexit,” Scholz said. “We are also discussing the creation of an additional fund for investments. As such, it makes sense in this context to consider whether funding for these efforts should be collected at the European level.”

Scholz noted the idea of using a financial transaction tax to bolster the EU budget had been raised by French President Emmanuel Macron. He suggested it could raise between €5 billion and €7 billion.

Scholz also said it was “right and proper” to think about how revenue earned by internet companies in Europe should be taxed, but stopped short of endorsing an EU-wide digital tax — another idea advanced by Macron.

Germany and Frances plans to strengthen the eurozone are not at odds with the new populist Italian government, Scholz said. The coalition reached in May between the far-right League and anti-establishment 5Star Movement has been vocally Euroskeptic, and originally wanted to appoint an anti-euro economist as economy minister.

Scholz said he believes Italian citizens are still pro-euro and pro-EU and that he is “hearing from Rome that they will continue to collaborate on the European project.”

Asked about the Italian governments plans to raise social spending and cut taxes, Scholz replied: “The amount a country can afford is determined by its financial possibilities. And these are, in turn, limited by its revenues.”

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