European Commission refuses to unlock millions in revenue from Europe’s wealthiest

Published: 20th June 2023

Today, the European Commission presented its proposal for new sources of revenue for the EU’s budget.  

In response, Chiara Putaturo, interim deputy head of Oxfam EU office and tax expert, said: 

“This proposal is nothing but a band-aid solution to Europe’s financial challenges at home and abroad. By asking countries with large and profitable companies to cough up funds rather than the companies directly, the Commission is missing the mark and a huge chunk of revenue.  

“Europe’s richest 1 percent pocketed nearly 45 percent of new wealth since 2020. Food and energy companies more than doubled their profits in 2022. With this proposal, the European Commission refuses to unlock millions of euros and instead keeps it in the hands of the few. 

“An EU wealth or capital gain tax along with a windfall tax on all companies will not only help the EU repay its debt but also narrow the burgeoning gap between the rich and the poor. It is clear where the money is, they just lack the political will to unlock it.” 

Notes to editors

Chiara Putaturo is available for interview and comment. 

The European Commission’s proposal for own resources includes: 

  • A national contribution paid by EU countries based on the gross operating surplus for the sectors of financial and non-financial corporations. The European Commission aims to replace this with the Business in Europe: Framework for Income Taxation (BEFIT). 

  • An increase of the contribution from the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) from 25 to 30 percent.  

  • A change to the method in calculating the carbon border adjustment mechanism. The percentage of contribution remains the same - 75 percent. 

Oxfam asks to channel CBAM revenues into additional climate finance for poor countries.  

In May, the European Parliament voted on the report “Own resources: a fresh start for the EU Finances, a new start for Europe”. In coalition with the ONE Campaign, Action Aid and Global Citizen, Oxfam criticised the proposal saying that EU lawmakers failed again to bring us closer to a system where the richest pay their fair share in taxes.  

Together with economists, politicians and millionaires, Oxfam has registered a ‘European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) calling on the EU to adopt a permanent annual wealth tax on Europe’s biggest fortunes to reduce poverty and inequality both at home and in poorer countries, and to tackle the climate crisis.  

In Oxfam's report, “Survival of the Richest”, we calculated:   

  • Between 2020 and 2021, the richest 1 percent grabbed 44 percent of new wealth created in the EU - 4.5 times more than the bottom 90 percent.  

  • An annual European wealth tax starting at just 2 percent on millionaires with wealth above 4.5 million euros ($5 million), 3 percent on millionaires with wealth above 45.7 million euros ($50 million), and 5 percent on billionaires, would raise nearly 250 billion ($267.6 billion).  

  • In 2022 the biggest food and energy companies increased their profit more than 2.5 times (compared to 2018-2021). 

A study by the Left shows that a 70 percent tax rate on all windfall profits in the EU in 2020 would have generated up to 35 billion euros.  

Contact information

Jade Tenwick I Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 562260   

Julia Manresa | Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 87 44 26    

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