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Dijsselbloem attacks EU financial tax plans

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who also heads the single currency eurozone, said Tuesday his government will fight current plans by 11 EU states to implement a controversial tax on financial transactions (FTT).

Taking questions from a European Parliament economics committee, Dijsselbloem insisted he was speaking in his capacity as a national finance minister and not as Eurogroup chairman.

In this capacity, he told MEPs that an "FTT will hit our pension funds very hard," apparently referring to concerns the levy will make financial services more costly and undercut returns for investors.

"We don't feel it would be very appropriate to have an FTT on these pension funds," he said.

At the same time, "we don't think the revenues of this (tax) should be European... they should flow back to national governments," he said.

The Dutch government, however, "is interested in the instrument and is willing to talk about it -- but we have some tough conditions," Dijsselbloem added, without giving specific details

The FTT, set at 0.1 percent on a trade in shares and bonds, and of 0.01 percent for derivative investment instruments, is intended to raise 30-35 billion euros each year, according to the European Commission.

France and Germany have led the drive to implement the tax and have been joined by Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Britain, home to one of the world's biggest markets in London, is fiercely opposed to the levy which it sees as a threat to its prized financial services industry.

EU finance ministers last month cleared the tax, seen as a way of clawing back the billions in state money spent in propping up the banking sector during the debt crisis, although numerous hurdles remain before it can enter force.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130507/dijsselbloem-attacks-eu-financial-tax-plans