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Nicolas Sarkozy looks in a mirror as he prepares for his interview on French TV last night.
Nicolas Sarkozy looks in a mirror as he prepares for his interview on French TV last night.
Image: Lionel Bonaventure/AP/Press Association Images

Sarkozy says he will impose a French 'Robin Hood' tax

The French president is proposing to introduce a 0.1 per cent levy on financial transactions as well as a number of other reforms ahead of a re-election battle in April.
Jan 30th 2012, 8:05 AM 1,847 10

THE FRENCH PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that he plans to introduce a tax on financial transactions later this year regardless of whether it is introduced across Europe.

Sarkozy announced that the so-called ‘Robin Hood’ tax of 0.1 per cent on financial transactions will be introduced in August as part of a package of measures to promote growth and create jobs.

He faces a re-election battle in April but is currently trailing in the polls to the Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande.

Sarkozy said he hoped the levy would raise around €1 billion of new income and cut France’s sizeable budget deficit. Reuters reports that the tax would target shares and not bonds.

The president said he hoped the measures would spur other European countries to follow suit.

“What we want to do is create a shock wave and set an example that there is absolutely no reason why those who helped bring about the crisis shouldn’t pay to restore the finances,” he said in an hour long interview at the Elysée palace broadcast across nine French TV channels last night.

The Guardian reports that the interview was part of a strategy to portray Sarkozy as a safe pair of hands to guide France through the eurozone crisis as opposed to his main rival Hollande who has no experience in government.

“Last year I told the French that we were in a historic crisis. Never in its history has France found itself in a similar situation. We are trying to stop a crisis that could bring down the euro to start with, Europe afterwards and the world,” he said.

Sarkozy also said that he intended to free up labour laws to allow companies and unions to negotiate on pay and conditions at local level.

The measures appears to take aim at France’s 35-hour working week for which it has been criticised, BBC News reports. In the interview, Sarkozy described the 35-hour week as a “catastrophe”.

Other measures that the president said he intended to introduce include raising VAT to 21.2 per cent from 19.6 per cent from October and insisting on companies with more than 250 employees taking on interns to the level of 5 per cent of total staff.

Reuters also reports that facing a number of bad polls, Sarkozy can at least count on the support of German chancellor Angela Merkel who plans to actively back his campaign for re-election and make joint appearances with him.

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Hugh O'Connell


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