- 3 min read
- Published: 7th June 2023
Economists Activists and Millionaires Register Landmark European Citizens Initiative
Calling for a European wealth tax on the richest 1%.
A group of economists, activists, politicians and millionaires from seven countries across Europe today registered a ‘European Citizens’ Initiative’ (ECI) calling on the European Union (EU) to adopt a permanent annual wealth tax on Europe’s biggest fortunes to raise revenue to reduce poverty
and inequality both at home and in poorer countries, and to tackle the climate crisis.
The signatories are joining a chorus of voices around the world calling for greater taxation of the richest in light of record gains at the top of society amid economic hardship for the many. During the first two pandemic and cost-of-living crisis years, $26 trillion (63 percent) of all new wealth was captured by the richest 1 percent, while $16 trillion (37 percent) went to the rest of the world put
In the EU, the richest 1 percent bagged 4.5 times as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Last March, more than one hundred members of the European Parliament, supported by several leading economists including Gabriel Zucman and Joseph Stiglitz, as well as the Patriotic Millionaires, called on the EU to introduce a progressive tax on extreme wealth. Oxfam estimates that an annual wealth tax of up to 5 percent on Europe’s billionaires could raise nearly €250 billion a year.
The ‘European Citizens' Initiative’ allows European citizens to call on the European Commission to propose new laws. The initiators of the ECI will have one year to collect one million signatures, starting in July.
Marlene Engelhorn, millionaire, co-founder of taxmenow and member of the Patriotic Millionaires, said: “When poverty is soaring, and wealthy people like me are demanding to be taxed more, you know governments are on the wrong side of history. People won’t accept any more excuses. We must tax the rich.”
Lars Koch, Executive Director of Oxfam Denmark, said: “Governments have a simple choice. They can continue to let the super-rich fill their pockets while everyday people struggle to pay their bills, and aid and climate finance promises go unmet. Or they can put the needs of the many before the luxury of the few and tax the rich. A wealth tax can help reverse today’s unsustainable levels of inequality and unlock the billions needed for people and the planet. It is what we need for a fairer Europe and world.”
Thomas Piketty, economist, said: ”Europe is becoming less and less equal and we now know that the richest in our society pay less taxes than everybody else, as their wealth grows larger and much of it is undertaxed or even untaxed. EU institutions can change this if they listen to their citizens. It’s time to make our tax system fairer by introducing a progressive wealth tax in Europe.”
Notes to editors
The ECI was registered by László Andor (Hungary), Marlene Engelhorn, (Austria), Lars Koch
(Denmark), Patrizio Laina (Finland), Aurore Lalucq (France), Paul Magnette (Belgium), Thomas
Piketty (France), and Conny Reuter (Germany).
Polling consistently finds that most people across countries, including European countries, support
raising taxes on the richest. For example, the majority of people in the US, 80 percent of Indians,
85 percent of Brazilians and 69 percent of people polled across 34 countries in Africa support
increasing taxes on the rich.
Oxfam’s “Survival of the Richest” report shows that while the richest 1 percent captured 54 percent of new global wealth over the past decade, this has accelerated to 63 percent in the past two years. $42 trillion of new wealth was created between December 2019 and December 2021. $26 trillion (63 percent) was captured by the richest 1 percent, while $16 trillion (37 percent) went to the bottom 99 percent. According to Credit Suisse, individuals with more than $1 million in wealth sit in the top 1 percent bracket.
Based on the same methodology, Oxfam estimated that between 2020 and 2021, the richest 1
percent of Europeans grabbed 44 percent of new wealth created in the EU —4.5 times more than
the bottom 90 percent, who gained 9.6 percent of new wealth. Using data from Forbes and Wealth-X, Oxfam also estimated that an annual European wealth tax starting at just 2 percent on
millionaires with wealth above $5 million, 3 percent on millionaires with wealth above $50 million,
and 5 percent on billionaires, would raise $267.6 billion (nearly €250 billion).
Last March, more than one hundred members of the European Parliament, supported by several
economists, called on the EU to introduce a progressive tax on extreme wealth.
Clare Cronin, Oxfam Ireland +353 87 1952551