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Italy agrees to Tobin Tax, 'decision not easy'

October 9, 2012 Ansa
Italy on Tuesday became one of three new countries to agree to introducing a tax on international financial transactions, the so-called Tobin Tax, in the European Union.

"The decision was not easy, one that arrived in the final days," said Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Italian ambassador to the EU.

With the addition of yes votes from Spain, Slovakia and Italy Tuesday, there are now 11 countries in favor of the tax, named after Nobel laureate in economics James Tobin, EU Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta announced.

The countries can now press ahead with so-called enhanced cooperation to introduce the levy, despite opposition from Britain.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne reiterated that his country would not adhere to the tax, saying persioners and not banks would end up paying it, but added it would not "put a spoke in your wheel" to block it for those countries that want it. Osborne added that Britain would be less opposed if additional countries outside the EU committed to the tax.

The Tobin Tax has been discussed for 40 years but it is getting increased attention in the midst of the European debt crisis.

Premier Mario Monti had been resisting Germany's calls for a Tobin Tax so long as Merkel would not consider allowing EU rescue funds to be used to buy the bonds of countries like Spain and Italy, which have seen their borrowing costs climb despite taking measures to put their economic houses in order.

But last week European Central Bank President Mario Draghi announced the ECB was ready to launch a bond-buying program as soon as countries were ready to meet the necessary conditions.