LUXEMBOURG, June 22 (Xinhua) -- European countries failed again to reach unanimity on a plan to tax financial transactions and use the proceeds to fund future bank bailouts, European Union (EU) officials said Friday.
After a debate, "we concluded that there will not be unanimity for the Commission's proposal for financial transactions tax (FTT)," Danish Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager said at a press conference after a meeting of EU finance ministers.
"This was not surprising," added Vestager, whose country currently holds the rotating EU Presidency.
However, the meeting did result in some progress on the issue. "What was promising was that a number of countries expressed interest in going forward with enhanced cooperation. If there are nine countries supporting this, the Commission can come up with a new proposal," Vestager said.
The proposed FTT would charge banks 0.1 percent of the value of sales of stocks or bonds, and 0.01 percent per derivative contract, according to a proposal by the European Commission.
"Today we have clarity how to move ahead," said Algirdas Semeta, the European commissioner in charge of tax affairs, at the press conference.
"There is a strong message that there is a group of countries which want to introduce this tax, and it is for them to prepare the necessary input to launch the enhanced cooperation procedure," he added.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said earlier Thursday that 10 countries were prepared to use an EU process known as "enhanced cooperation" to push ahead with developing the tax, which Britain and other states, including some in the eurozone, oppose.
The Netherlands is among the EU countries strongly opposed to FTT. "The Netherlands has a very clear position on this. We will definitely not be implementing it," Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager told reporters as he arrived for the meeting.
"We see better alternatives. We already have a bank tax ourselves. Our tax also hits bonuses," he added.
Echoing De Jager, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said, "The financial transaction tax will increase borrowing costs and it will have a negative impact on European growth, and what we need to do is restore growth, not to reduce it."
George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, said such a tax would hurt the European economy as financial transactions were routed to countries outside the EU.
However, Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter, who forcefully advocates the tax, said, "I'll not allow this project to die."
Speaking on his arrival for the meeting, Fekter said, "I will fight for the fact that if we don't get an agreement with all 27, then we drive the project on with enhanced cooperation."
She warned that the ratification of the eurozone's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), in Austrian parliament would be at stake if there are not enough member states supporting the FTT proposal.
"That would really be a pity," Fekter added.