- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 12, 2009

BRUSSELS (AP) | European Union leaders called for a global financial transaction levy and more responsible banking pay in the hopes the moves could help buffer against future market crises, according to a joint statement published Friday.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there was “growing support” around the world for such a levy and that other EU nations were supportive of Britain’s plans for a one-off tax of 50 percent for all bonuses of more than more than $40,800.

France said it would follow suit - and called on others to join them. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, “We want and expect others to do the same because we are in a globalized world.”

“It would be very difficult for Gordon Brown to say he was the only one to do it. It would have been impossible to say I was the only one to do it, so we do it together,” Mr. Sarkozy told reporters.

Mr. Sarkozy’s warm words of support for Mr. Brown were in striking contrast to recent comments in which he claimed victory for France over Anglo-Saxon economics in nabbing a key EU financial services post for a Frenchman, Michel Barnier.

But the EU’s 27 leaders stopped short of saying they would also introduce taxes on bankers’ bonuses. German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a lukewarm response Thursday, calling the British tax “a charming idea.”

She also told reporters that a bonus tax might raise constitutional problems in Germany - and that it was more of a problem for British companies. Separately, 11 leading German banks and insurers agreed Friday to link pay to “sustainable business success.”

In a statement, the EU’s 27 leaders broadly backed limits on bankers’ pay, saying that the financial sector should “immediately implement sound compensation practices” and that governments could consider “short-term options” - such as a bonus tax - if they want to.

They also said a global tax on financial transactions should be one of several options that the International Monetary Fund should investigate when it puts forward plans on how the world should respond to the financial crisis.

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