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Barnier: Europe's 'Robin Hood' tax 'politically and morally right'

By CNN staff
updated 3:00 PM EST, Fri January 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • European Commissioner Michel Barnier has endorsed a planned "Robin Hood" tax
  • The European tax on financial transactions was morally right, he said
  • He would like to see it extended internationally
  • He said capitalism had become a "caricature" of itself, and wanted to restore its morality

Davos, Switzerland (CNN) -- The European Union's Internal Markets Commissioner says a planned "Robin Hood" tax on financial trades is "only right," and he would like to see it enforced worldwide.

Michel Barnier told CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos that capitalism had "become a caricature of itself," and it was "politically and morally" right that the financial sector should be taxed.

"The financial crisis ... broke the back of growth and after all we helped out the financial sector, it's perfectly right and fair that it should give something back," he said.

The controversial tax on trading in stocks, bonds and derivatives came a step closer on Tuesday when European Union finance ministers allowed some member states to proceed with the plan, intended to reap billions of euros for struggling European nations.

Barnier said the tax was "perfectly bearable," and could be "applied fairly easily in technical terms."

Barnier acknowledged the fact the tax would be limited to Europe was a weakness.

"I would prefer it of course if this tax were a worldwide tax," he said. "I would prefer it if the UK and even the U.S. were on board."

He said he wanted to see the rules applying to the financial sector more stringently applied to bring about "a more moral attitude" in the industry.

"What I challenge is all the sorts of manipulations and toxic products and excessive bonuses that can hardly be justified that we've come upon over the past few years," he said.

"We've seen ... the capitalist system go off the rails... We've got to bring it back on track and ensure that financial services... for the economy and for our regions."

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