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Macron says European financial transaction tax must make sense

French President Emmanuel Macron and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attend a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merke (not seen) as part of a Franco-German joint cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Julien de Rosa/Pool (Reuters)

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said in a newspaper interview published on Thursday he would push for a European financial transaction tax (FTT) as long as it made sense and was effective. France and Germany had led efforts to create the tax, which was supposed to help recover public funds used to bail out banks in the financial crisis and to curb speculative trading. But the talks have dragged on since 2011 as countries struggle to agree what instruments should be covered and at which rate. Banks and other opponents of the tax argue that it only makes sense if it covers many countries or else transactions will shift towards financial centres not covered by it. Macron said that he would "go all the way" on the tax, adding: "I am in no way pulling back on this subject" after some EU lawmakers and NGOs accused him of just that. However, he added that it depended on whether Britain had access to EU financial markets after Brexit, because otherwise firms would move to London where the tax will not apply. "I want an FTT that can be applied in a coherent space, makes sense and is effective," Macron told Ouest France newspaper. Ten countries - Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain - have signed up in principle for the tax. A minimum of nine is needed under EU rules. Macron's government is pushing hard to attract finance jobs from London and promised last week to axe an tax on intra-day financial transactions that lawmakers added to the last budget bill, much to the fury of French finance firms. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Richard Lough)

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