Dijsselbloem Says Dutch Could Still Join Transaction Tax

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the Netherlands could still sign on to an 11-nation effort to design a European Union tax on financial transactions, if its concerns are met.

“The Dutch would still like to join that group” of nations seeking agreement within so-called enhanced cooperation, he told reporters at a press conference in Washington. “Our conditions have not been met.”

Dijsselbloem said “there is a lot to be debated” and that he is sympathetic to a new challenge from the U.K., which also isn’t one of the nations who have signed on. “Going back to the British, I can understand their point,” Dijsselbloem said.

The U.K. began a legal challenge to an EU plan to tax financial transactions that would apply to trades worldwide, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said this week. The U.K.’s action at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg seeks to protect Britain, home of Europe’s largest financial center, against possible economic damage. Osborne said it isn’t a direct challenge to the legality of the tax being introduced by the 11 EU nations that currently support it.

The tax could be collected worldwide as soon as the start of next year by the 11 nations that have so far signed up. Like a prior, failed proposal for all 27 EU countries, the plan would charge a 0.1 percent rate for stock and bond trades and 0.01 percent for derivatives transactions.

The EU is trying to remedy what it sees as a “patchwork” of local levies across the region. To escape the proposed levy, companies in other nations would have to cease financial-services activity with participating nations, according to the EU.

Italy, one of the nations that has signed on to the effort, also has expressed reservations. “Transactions on government bonds must be excluded,” Italian ambassador Ferdinando Nelli Feroci told reporters in Brussels yesterday. This is a “red line” for Italy and not up for negotiation, Feroci said.

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