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Procedure : 2004/0016(CNS)
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Document selected : A5-0158/2004

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A5-0158/2004

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P5_TA(2004)0200

REPORT     *
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17 March 2004
PE 333.120 A5-0158/2004
on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2003/96/EC as regards the possibility for certain Member States to apply, in respect of energy products and electricity, temporary exemptions or reductions in the levels of taxation
(COM(2004) 42 – C5‑0090/2004 – 2004/0016(CNS))
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Rapporteur: Pervenche Berès
PROCEDURAL PAGE
 DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

PROCEDURAL PAGE

By letter of 18 January 2004 the Council consulted Parliament, pursuant to Article 93 of the EC Treaty, on the proposal for a Council directive on amending Directive 2003/96/EC as regards the possibility for certain Member States to apply, in respect of energy products and electricity, temporary exemptions or reductions in the levels of taxation (COM(2004) 42 – 2004/0016(CNS)).

At the sitting of 25 February 2004 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred the proposal to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs as the committee responsible and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy and to Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism for their opinions (C5‑0090/2004).

The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs had appointed Pervenche Berès rapporteur at its meeting of 11 February 2004.

The committee considered the Commission proposal and draft report at its meetings of 8 March 2004 and 16 March 2004.

At the latter meeting it adopted the draft legislative resolution unanimously.

The following were present for the vote: Christa Randzio-Plath (chairwoman), Philippe A.R. Herzog (vice-chairman), John Purvis (vice-chairman), Robert Goebbels (for Pervenche Berès (rapporteur)), Hans Udo Bullmann, Bert Doorn (for Othmar Karas), Jonathan Evans, Carles-Alfred Gasòliba i Böhm, Lisbeth Grönfeldt Bergman, Christopher Huhne, Christoph Werner Konrad, Werner Langen (for Ingo Friedrich), Astrid Lulling, Thomas Mann (for Generoso Andria), David W. Martin, Hans-Peter Mayer, Simon Francis Murphy (for Mary Honeyball), Fernando Pérez Royo, José Javier Pomés Ruiz (for José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil), Alexander Radwan, Bernhard Rapkay, Mónica Ridruejo, Peter William Skinner, Helena Torres Marques, Bruno Trentin, Ieke van den Burg (for Giorgos Katiforis) and Theresa Villiers.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy decided on 16 February 2004 not to deliver and opinion. The Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy decided on 24 February 2004 not to deliver and opinion. The Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism decided on 17 February 2004 not to deliver and opinion.

The report was tabled on 17 March 2004.


DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council directive on amending Directive 2003/96/EC as regards the possibility for certain Member States to apply, in respect of energy products and electricity, temporary exemptions or reductions in the levels of taxation

(COM(2004) 42 – C5‑0090/2004 – 2004/0016(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2004) 42)(1),

–   having regard to Article 93 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C5‑0090/2004),

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 September 2003 on the draft Council directive on restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity (8084/2003).(2)

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A5‑0158/2004),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal;

2.   Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

3.   Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

4.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

(1)Not yet published in OJ.
(2)OJ L 283, 31.10. 2003. p 51


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Since 2004, the Council directive 2003/96/EC restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity has become the main legal base in the field of energy taxation. It entered into force on the 1st of January 2004, nearly seven years after the initial Commission's proposal, considerably modified during the negotiations, but only two months after its publication. The time lag gives evidence how sensible the question of energy taxation remains and how difficult it is to reach unanimity. The final version of the Directive guarantees to all current Member States certain transitional arrangements for being able to adjust their national legislation. Some transitional arrangements giving to Member States a transitory period up to 8 years.

The harmonised taxation is the fundamental prerequisite for a well-functioning Internal Market. In order to avoid harmful tax competition, the acceding countries have to align their tax rates of excise duties with minima required within the European Union. Thus, they are supposed to apply rates in line with the previous Directive (92/82/EEC). Nevertheless, for some of them and for some categories of energy products the process of alignment seems to be slower than expected. Furthermore, the new Directive has introduced (they are not high) higher minimum rates.

The character of the proposal

Concerning the new legal framework, in some cases the new Member States asked for longer transitional periods than set up by the Directive. Your rapporteur points out the fact that the number of derogations and exemptions was broadly criticised in the first report adopted by the European Parliament in 1999 under the previous legislative term. However, the Commission required detailed justification of every demand for transitional arrangements. Moreover, the Commission did not accept all requests received. Your rapporteur notices that the proposal emphasises the gradual adjustment, i.e. the gradual increase throughout the transitional period. She also welcomes the attempt to unify the arrangements.

In the majority of cases, the transitional periods concern electricity that, for the time being, is not subject to excise duty in these countries and energy products used for heating. Therefore, the worries about a sudden increase of households' costs of living are comprehensible and realistic. The Commission provided figures showing the potential inflation rates induced by the directive. Some figures are worrying and transitory periods seem, therefore, reasonable. The Commission proposes adapted proportional and progressive solutions for the new Member States. They are consistent with the general approach to transitory periods: they help to avoid excessive burdens for households and the economy, and they are limited in time. In addition, the transitory periods are along the lines of those allowed to existing Member States in the energy tax directive. The distortion of competition in the internal market that will exist in the regions along the borders of current and future Member States is regrettable, but seems to be unavoidable for above mentioned reasons.

Your rapporteur believes that the Commission's assessments are based on sound evaluations. Concerning the time constraint before the accession takes place, she does not table any amendments. Nevertheless, she appeals on all Member States, including the current, to respect the deadlines set by the Directive and, as such, contribute to the development of the environment-friendly internal market. She reminds that only one current Member State has implemented the directive for the time being and urges the other to take measure to transpose the text.

She nevertheless regrets the debates concerning the legal basis of this text, thinks that the Parliament consultation is a very minimum in this matter and regrets that taxation still requires unanimity of votes in the Council. She reminds that the European Parliament had called for higher minimum rates as well as less and shorter exemptions in its consultation in September 2003 on the energy tax directive. The rapporteur is further of the opinion that a strategy to shift tax from labour towards environmental use should be pursued more vigorously in the European Union and that the Working Committee settled by the President Romano Prodi on European tax should take into account the hypothesis of using energy taxation as a future resource of EU budget.

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