Poll: Majority in five major European countries back Robin Hood Tax

People across Europe have sent a clear message to their leaders to agree a financial transaction tax, known in many countries as the Robin Hood Tax, when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.

A YouGov poll commissioned by Oxfam and carried out in six European countries found a majority of people in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy all support a Robin Hood Tax. More voters in the Netherlands support this tax than oppose it, the poll showed.

More than 80 per cent in each country, ranging from 82 per cent in the Netherlands to 90 per cent in Spain, believe banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions have a responsibility to repair the damage caused by the economic crisis they helped to cause, the poll found.

Only one in nine people in the UK and France and one out of 11 in Germany thought banks had already done enough to atone for the economic crisis.  

The poll will add to the growing momentum behind a European FTT. Earlier this month the 17 countries in the Eurozone agreed to explore the introduction of an FTT at Euro area, EU and global levels.

The President of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, reiterated on Friday he would push for an FTT in Europe on a unilateral basis. This came just days after the European Parliament backed an EU-wide Robin Hood Tax. 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said creating a coalition of countries willing to implement an FTT for development and climate change will be a key priority for his country’s year as chair of the G20. He has got strong support from political heavyweights such as German chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Oxfam is campaigning for a Robin Hood Tax to raise funds to help poor people hit by the economic crisis and to tackle climate change. 

Elise Ford, Head of Oxfam International’s EU office, said: “This poll shows that a Robin Hood Tax on banks’ financial transactions could be the most popular tax in Europe’s history.

“People are sending a clear message to their leaders: banks have not done enough to atone for their sins. People across Europe clearly believe their governments should join President Sarkozy’s coalition of the willing and make the financial sector pay to help people hit by the economic crisis.” 

More than twice as many people supported an FTT than opposed it in the UK (51 per cent vs 19 per cent), Germany (53 v 24), France (51 v 22), Spain (67 v 15) and Italy (59 v 18). In the Netherlands 38 per cent of those questioned were in favour and 25 per cent opposed.  

The poll shows that in the UK, whose government is believed to be most likely to oppose an EU-wide FTT, more supporters of the Conservative Party (45 per cent) back a Robin Hood Tax than oppose it (27%), 87 per cent believe financial institutions should help repair the damage they caused and only 16 per cent believe banks have already paid back enough since the economic collapse. The Conservative Party is the largest in the UK’s coalition government.

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The Robin Hood Tax campaign

Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was: 2226 in the UK, 2008 in France, 2105 in Germany, 2009 in Spain, 2004 in Italy and 2011 in the Netherlands. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 14th March 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of adults (aged 18+) in each market.

The following statement was part of the conclusions of the meeting of the Heads of State of the Eurozone on March 11: "The Heads of State or Government agree that the introduction of a financial transaction tax should be explored and developed further at the Euro area, EU and international levels".

President of the Eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated on Friday he would push for an FTT in Europe.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Saturday he would be prepared to spend money from a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on development and climate change.

FTT Question asked: Some campaigners have called for the government to introduce a tax on bank transactions. This would be a tax between financial institutions and not on routine banking transactions of high street customers. Some argue that this would be a fair way of raising much needed funds for the government whilst others claim that this will make financial services more expensive and would be unworkable without the backing of all other countries.

  • Question in UK, Spain, Italy and The Netherlands: To what extent would you support or oppose a tax on the UK’s financial institutions if the money raised went towards protecting public services and tackling poverty at home and abroad?
  • Question in France: To what extent would you support or oppose that France starts already by putting in place such a tax at national level, should the money raised be used to fund health, education and the overall fight against poverty in developing countries?
  • Question in Germany: To what extent would you support or oppose a tax like that if (at least some of) the money raised went towards tackling poverty at home and abroad?

Contact information

For more information, contact:

Angela Corbalan on + 32 473 56 22 60 or angela.corbalan@oxfaminternational.org