A ComRes survey reveals a majority of MEPs and Brussels influencers favour the introduction of a Europe-wide financial transaction tax
With the financial transaction tax enjoying a prominent place in recent debates across Europe, ComRes surveyed opinion elites in Brussels and members of the European Parliament about the introduction of such a levy.
Although MEPs have only a consultative role in the decision-making process on taxation issues at EU level, their opinions are essential when uncovering whether there is sufficient support throughout Europe for this tax. The views of Brussels influencers also provide a valuable insight into how much support the tax can expect to gather.
The research found that a majority of MEPs and Brussels opinion elites would support the introduction of the financial transaction tax; 58 per cent and 65 per cent respectively. Only representatives of businesses are fully split on the issue with 47 per cent both agreeing and disagreeing.
The survey was conducted among a representative sample of 101 MEPs and 258 'Brussels influencers' using ComRes's unique EuropollTM
survey of MEPs and survey of Brussels Influencers. Influencers include staff from the parliament, the European Commission, European Union agencies and permanent representations of member states to the EU – as well as European trade and professional associations, representatives of business, non-governmental organisations, think-tanks, academics and Brussels-based journalists.
When asked whether they think the tax is "the right way to ensure that the banking sector shares its responsibility for the economic crisis", 59 per cent of MEPs agreed with the statement. In stark contrast, 60 per cent of business representatives held the contradictory view, disagreeing with the statement.
The research highlights the concerns of members and substitutes of the arliament's economic and monetary affairs committee. While 59 per cent of MEPs from this committee feel that the financial transaction tax would "make Europe's banking sector less competitive worldwide", 63 per cent would still support its introduction. Two in three MEPs, 63 per cent, from the committee also believe that the tax would be welcomed by their constituents.
Overall, while a majority of MEPs support the idea of a financial transaction tax this is not uniform across the party groups. The majority of MEPs from the centre-right European People's Party, 64 per cent, and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, 80 per cent, show support for the introduction of this tax. However, a majority of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats members would not "support the introduction of a Europe-wide financial transaction tax"; 46 per cent disagree with its introduction as opposed to 33 per cent who agree with it.
Notably, 76 per cent of ALDE members agree that the tax "will make Europe's banking sector less competitive worldwide". The European liberal democrats are the only one among the three largest party groups in the parliament where a majority of its members disagree with introducing an FTT and believe that it will make Europe's banking sector less competitive.
Besides ALDE, representatives of business also had a negative opinion of the introduction of a financial transaction tax, with 60 per cent saying that they did not think the tax "is the right way to ensure that the banking sector shares its responsibility for the economic crisis". They also considered the tax to be detrimental to how competitive Europe's banking sector is worldwide, with a large majority of 67 per cent agreeing with this notion.
On the contrary, representatives of EU-level NGOs are, together with MEPs from the PASD group, most supportive of the introduction a financial transaction tax with almost nine in 10 saying that they would support it.
Staff from permanent representations of the member states to the EU were the most undecided group on the potential impact of introducing a financial transaction tax. 34 per cent of these respondents agreed that "a financial transaction tax will make Europe's banking sector less competitive worldwide", while 34 per cent disagreed with the statement and 27 per cent stated "don't know".
Overall, the results of the survey undoubtedly show that there is a majority of policy makers and elites in Europe who would support the introduction of an EU-wide financial transaction tax. The ALDE group and businesses, who are more hesitant on this issue, appear to be in a minority. With alliances emerging among member states, the opinions of Brussels elites and EU decision-makers point to a very interesting debate that is yet to come. Lizzie Ash is a member of the ComRes research team. The full report can be found here