European finance ministers are discussing a proposed EU financial transaction tax on Tuesday, but the bloc is hopelessly divided on the issue. Not even Germany and France's plan B, to only introduce the tax in the euro zone, has much chance of success. Key euro-zone members such as Ireland and the Netherlands are afraid of losing out.
It's being greeted as a breakthrough. When the 27 European Union finance ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday, they plan to discuss the introduction of a financial transaction tax in Europe. It's the first time that the issue has been on the agenda at such a meeting. Supporters of the tax argue that is evidence that the tax is making progress in its long journey through the EU's institutions.
Therein lies the rub. There is little chance of such an agreement. Officially, supporters of the tax are still aiming for the "comprehensive solution," as the Commission's proposal is dubbed. But an agreement is already regarded as a pipedream. A whole row of naysayers, led by Britain and Sweden, are opposed to the tax unless it is introduced globally. They consider it to be detrimental to growth and fear that they will become less competitive on the international playing field if they introduce a tax. The unanimity principle applies to tax matters within the EU, so even a single veto would be sufficient to derail the plan.
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The question is, is there anything at all in which the European Union has been succesful recently?
Can´t think of much.
Oh yes, there are actually a couple of "succes stories" coming out of Brussels:
The President of the Commission, Mr Barroso, receives an annual salary of EUR 300 000, plus EUR 50 000 in allowances to cover accommodation and entertainment costs; moreover, when his term of office comes to an end the Commission will award him a mega-allowance of EUR 190 000 per year for a full three years.
Does the Commission not consider that, particularly at a time when the whole of Europe has been plunged into financial crisis, there is an urgent need to bring down to an acceptable level both this princely remuneration, which is far higher than anything any European Head of State — or even President Obama — receives, and the Commission President's massive end-of-service payment?
WRITTEN QUESTION by Mario Borghezio (UEN) to the Commission (2010)
And the EU "president" Herman Van Rompuy, of course, enjoys the same conditions as the President of the Commission":
A basic salary of 138% of the highest civil service grade: that would be €24,874.62 per month (not including family and other allowances).
The President receives a chauffeured car and around 20 dedicated staff members. He also has a housing allowance, rather than an official residence which was considered "too symbolic". Likewise, the idea of a private jet was also rejected for being symbolic and, as one diplomat pointed out, a discrepancy in privileges between the European Council and Commission presidents may only fuel rivalry between the two.
The Express adds:
HERMAN Van Rompuy was anointed European Union president last night, scooping an eye-popping salary of £320,000. Herman Van Rompuy's massive pay package, revealed yesterday in leaked EU documents, will make him the highest paid leader in the Western world, earning more than US President Barack Obama.
The salaries menioned above were paid in 2009. Today both Van Rompuy and Barroso are even better paid.