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Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

17. Taxation of energy products and electricity (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. – The next item is the report by Astrid Lulling, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on taxation of energy products and electricity (COM(2011)0169 – C7-0105/2011 – 2011/0092(CNS)) (A7-0052/2012).


  Astrid Lulling, rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the debate on energy taxation in Europe should commence with the acknowledgement that tax harmonisation in the European Union has only ever made minor steps forwards. Therefore, in our position as tax advisor and not taxpayer, it would be illusory to call for a major overhaul of the tax system.

In my view, the European Parliament has an ever greater role to play in finding a compromise that is acceptable to as many Member States as possible, or even one that is acceptable to them all, as unanimous support in the Council is required, rather than in carrying out an exercise in style.

The draft directive, which has been submitted for our review, is much more than an update of the 2003 text. This time, it calls to support the aim of a low carbon economy, and by introducing a CO2-based element, in order to advance the European Union’s commitments to combating climate change.

Can we contribute, by means of a tax system, to achieving these objectives? Maybe, but things are not as simple as some people have us believe.

I certainly support, as does my group, the Commission’s methodological approach, which seeks to tax energy on a dual basis, taking into account both their CO2 emissions and energy content. This point was subject to a wide agreement within the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as well as within other committees for opinion.

However, the other innovation, proportionality, has, on the other hand, been deeply divisive. It does not seem wise to me that Member States who set their rates higher than the minima should be forced to uphold the proportionality between the various applicable minimum thresholds for each type of energy. This slightly abstract term would have very tangible consequences and in general, this proportionality would lead to an increase in energy prices, which have already soared. More specifically, proportionality would lead to a substantial increase in the price of diesel in virtually all Member States, which would be required to replicate the new tax difference of 9% between diesel and petrol. Citing simply the example of Germany and France, the increase would exceed EUR 0.22 per litre of diesel.

A further consequence would be the increased cost of transporting people and goods, a sector that is wholly dependent on diesel, and the penalisation of the European automotive sector, which is a global leader in diesel technology.

Consequently, my group decided to reintroduce an amendment calling for the principle of proportionality to be scrapped. If, in the unlikely event, we are not successful tomorrow in scrapping this principle, we propose a second amendment, which is not my preferred option, of course, but which is the bottom line of what we deem acceptable. This would be the implementation of a very conditional proportionality that would only be applicable from 2030, that would only be introduced following the reassuring conclusions of an impact study, on European industrial competitiveness for example, and that would allow each Member State to maintain a distinction between commercial diesel and non-commercial diesel.

Mr President, allow me to speak for a little longer as I still have another point to cover, which is that of the exemption of air and maritime transport. Through an unhappy combination of circumstances, the amendment that was adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs was the most extreme one. It calls for the end of the exclusion of air and maritime transport from the scope of the directive. Yet, the European Commission has clearly indicated that this full inclusion is not legally possible due to international conventions. Therefore, a return to the Commission’s original text is necessary.

Ladies and gentlemen, the European Union is not an island, even less so in the global air and maritime transport sector. Moreover, I ask my colleagues what true sense there is in these political initiatives that lead to us shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of the competition, which is more than they could hope for.

To conclude, I have tried, within the framework of this report, to defend a realistic vision of things that is not opposed to progress. If this vision prevails, it would allow us to be heard by the Council, where, for that matter, a very large majority of Member States continue to have their reservations.


  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I wish to thank the honourable Members and Ms Astrid Lulling for the report and for the speedy and thorough treatment of this proposal.

Its main purposes are to meet the EU’s priority goals of combating climate change, improving energy efficiency, stimulating renewable energy sources and ensuring fair competition within the internal market. To achieve this, the proposal bases taxation on objective criteria – CO2 emissions and energy content.

This will offer many advantages. First, taxation of energy products will be more coherent. Second, consumers will receive a consistent price signal to reduce emissions and to save energy. Third, double taxation and overlaps with the EU emission trading scheme will be removed. Fourth, use of sustainable biofuels and products from biomass will be promoted, since they will be exempt from CO2 taxation. Last but not least, taxes on polluting activities are a means of shifting taxation away from labour, thereby supporting growth and competitiveness.

The impact of such far-reaching changes is addressed by providing for transitional periods up to 2023, when appropriate.

Turning to the amendments, the Commission welcomes the support for the main features of its proposal, in particular, the introduction of a CO2- and energy-related element, a gradual increase of minimum rates by 2018 and the principle of equal taxation of all fuels put to the same use. The Commission would insist on keeping the ‘proportionality principle’, which means equal taxation of petrol and diesel. There is no reason to subsidise the use of diesel over the use of petrol.

The impact on demand for diesel cars should not be overestimated: the efficiency of conversion technology in current diesel cars is higher than in petrol cars, and it would still remain attractive to purchase diesel cars. Moreover, long transitional periods should ensure time to adjust. It is neither the cars of today nor the cars of tomorrow that are at stake. It is the cars of our children, or even our grandchildren.

I would like to reassure you that many of the amendments accepted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs concern issues which are already covered by the proposal and do not require changes to it. The Commission will continue to defend the spirit of those issues in the negotiations in the Council.

The Commission understands the call for longer transitional periods, particularly in terms of respecting the principle of equal taxation, and would support them in the Council, as part of an overall compromise. It would insist on keeping automatic indexation in order to keep the agreed level of rate harmonisation intact and to avoid an erosion of Member States’ revenue by inflation.

The Commission could accept an automatic alignment of the minimum CO2 tax level to the price of ETS allowances, if a legally sound reference index can be referred to.

The Commission welcomes the phasing out of the tax advantage for commercial diesel in order to achieve full internalisation of external costs. The Commission does not, however, see the need for a specific transitional period for this. Long transitional periods up to 2023 are already provided for and could be extended until 2025 in the context of an overall compromise in the Council.

As for energy consumption by households, the Commission is not now in favour of agreeing on an end date for phasing out optional tax exemptions or reductions. It also feels that it would be premature to remove the exemption for commercial aircraft and shipping fuel now, taking into account the fact that the aviation sector is covered by the EU ETS and that developments on tackling emissions in the maritime sector could take place in the near future. Both these issues will, in any case, be reviewed in the regular Commission report on the application of the new framework for energy taxation.

In conclusion, the Commission is open to discuss amendments to its proposal, provided that they do not undermine its main objectives and that they preserve its key principles.


  Angelika Werthmann, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Budgets.(DE) Mr President, I was the rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Budgets on the matter of the taxation of energy products and electricity. Alongside many important issues in the debate, I call to mind the fact that, following intense debate, the Committee on Budgets adopted its opinion unanimously across all groups. The essence of this opinion is that the revenue from any future taxation of energy products, or a proportion thereof, could form a basis for a future system of own resources for the EU budget. This point, which is of great importance for the European Union, should therefore also be taken into consideration in all future debates.

In closing I would like to express my thanks to all the shadow rapporteurs for their positive cooperation on this report and also to Ms Lulling, the rapporteur for the lead committee.


  Kathleen Van Brempt, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. (NL) Mr President, I would actually like to come back to the essence of this story and to why the Commission has made this proposal. The way in which we tax energy in the European Union today does not provide an incentive for us to switch to renewable energy, nor does it promote energy efficiency in any way.

That is why the Commission has put forward a proposal in order to achieve just that; it is a proposal in which that ambition really comes to the fore. I have to say, ladies and gentlemen, we in this Parliament are very good about voting on fine resolutions on the sustainable and green economies, but when it comes to real dossiers, to specific things, and to showing a little courage, then we quite often find ourselves lacking in that department.

If I look at the outcome from the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, then it, too, does not go far enough, in my view. I wanted to go further, but I can live with what we have now because the Commission’s key proposals have been retained, such as taxation of energy based on both content and CO2, the phasing out of commercial diesel and other important principles.

I call on all my colleagues, especially those from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and some delegations, especially the German one, to think carefully about that and, above all, to be courageous tomorrow, and support the Commission’s key proposals.


  Béla Kovács, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. (HU) Mr President, although I was rapporteur for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, I would rather present my own personal opinion this time, and would like to bring it to the attention of the European Commission. I must say that in this instance, the ITRE Committee has approved the subject which we had eventually closed after 123 motions for amendment. I would like to thank Ms Lulling for her continuous cooperation, my colleagues for their work, for our joint work, in preparing this report, and I hope that it will be approved by both the European Parliament and the Commission.


  Werner Langen (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Kovács, naturally you are allowed to express your own personal opinion. However, if you are speaking here as rapporteur for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, then where there is no consensus, your job is to represent the decision of that committee, not your own personal opinion. Mr President, please would you emphasise how important it is that the rapporteurs for the committees abide by this internal rule. Otherwise, there can be no justification for giving speaking time to the rapporteurs outside of the speaking time for the groups.


  Inés Ayala Sender, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism.(ES) Mr President, I should like to thank Ms Lulling for all the work she has been doing, and all the different Members who have spoken.

On behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, I would like to remind the Commission, and specifically Mr Šemeta, that what is being proposed in this time of major crisis in the economic and financial sectors, as well as in European industry, is the creation of a market in which the EU is not yet a leader and on which we are also dependent, trailing behind other experiences and technologies.

This would mean creating a biofuels market at the expense of another market in which the EU is an unquestionable leader, and in which our exports continue to increase to countries such as the United States and India.

The EU is a clear leader in diesel technology, where we have invested enormous amounts in innovation, in creating vehicles and engines that are more efficient, less noisy, less polluting and that consume less. Reducing CO2 emissions is so obvious and so attractive to users that, right now, 76% of vehicles made in the EU have diesel engines.

In addition, the Commission is well aware that even during a period of transition, shall we say, we have to rely primarily on diesel, even to meet the 2020 goal of reducing CO2 emissions to 95g/km. In other words, with all of these positive elements, during this time of severe crisis, why would the Commission try to create a new market by killing off another one? I therefore believe that it should think again and give us a chance to reach an agreement and a consensus.


  Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.(ES) Mr President, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development agrees with the final objective of this directive – to try to adapt the composition of our energy mix through taxation – but we are facing a very complex debate full of difficulties in economic, social and environmental terms; it is important to maintain a balance that helps us to progress in environmental matters, of course, but we want to avoid causing any damage to the economy and creating greater social crises than the ones we are already experiencing.

That is the case with agriculture. As you are all aware, energy costs account for an increasingly high proportion of fixed costs for agricultural holdings, at a time when we are also debating the crises taking place in the raw materials markets – with the prospect of a loss of subsidies – and an increase in health and environmental demands, which reduce their profit margins.

We have therefore called for two things. Firstly, to maintain the zero level of taxation for the energy component, which is currently linked to drafting and complying with strategies for energy efficiency and energy saving in the rural sector; and to incorporate agriculture in the sectors considered to be at risk of carbon leakage so as to be able to have access to the reductions allowed for CO2 emissions.

In other words, we want a policy that is more demanding in environmental terms, but which maintains the balance that makes our agricultural sector viable at a time of change and uncertainty in that sector.


  Markus Ferber, on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we should stop acting as if we can save the world every time we get together in Strasbourg. Once again, we have a proposal on the table, and once again we are saving the world, the climate, our resources and who knows what else – even though we have already done it before elsewhere. It makes no sense to do the same thing over and over again.

That is why I want to state very clearly that it makes no sense – as the Commissioner has said – to burden aviation, where we have a functioning emissions certificate trading system that we hope will also soon be effective internationally, with an additional tax. It makes no sense to include shipping, which has ideal alternative options, in this tax. It makes no sense to engineer a compromise between energy density and CO2 emissions. Excuse me for saying so, but as an engineer, I must point out that high energy density means lower CO2 emissions per kilometre travelled. Penalising this correlation twice is equally non-sensical.

I therefore have to say that the Commission proposal has not been fully thought out. What the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs approved by a majority – against the wishes of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) – only makes a half-baked proposal worse still. There is not the slightest chance that unanimity will be achieved in the Council of Ministers. That is why we need to be honest here in the European Parliament and say that we reject the report. We need to throw out this proposal. It is half-baked, unusable, and there are better ways of saving the world than through tax legislation.


  Olle Ludvigsson, on behalf of the S&D Group.(SV) Mr President, the Energy Taxation Directive is out of date. It needs to be brought up to date and improved so that it can function in an efficient and balanced way.

The regulatory framework for taxation needs to be brought into line with the increases in our ambitions in energy and environment policy since the directive was adopted in 2003, and it needs to be adapted to new conditions on the energy market.

Most importantly, we must stop discriminating against renewable fuels. The conditions provided for these fuels must be as good as those granted to fossil fuels in order for their development to be sustainable. Energy taxation also needs to be coordinated with emissions trading.

An ambitious revision of the directive is an essential element of a credible energy and environment policy. If we do not revise the directive, we will struggle to meet the Europe 2020 target, nor will we be demonstrating responsibility towards future generations.

The outcome of the reading in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is a positive one. The committee’s report retains the central elements of the Commission’s logical and well thought-out proposal.

The most controversial aspect, the principle of fiscal neutrality, means that the Member States must ensure that all fuels that are used for the same purpose are subject to the same tax. This is an excellent way to establish fair and predictable competitive conditions. All fuels are given equal opportunities on a flexible energy market. Sound ground rules like these are crucial when it comes to promoting technological development, growth and the creation of jobs.

In the short term, the principle of fiscal neutrality could create problems for the motor industry. The report by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs solves this problem by means of a long phasing-in period lasting until 2025 for this sector.

If the principle should give rise to tax imbalances, the Commission could put forward proposals for compensatory amendments to other vehicle-related taxes. In my view, this is a model that is both rational and viable.

The vote tomorrow concerns the credibility of our energy policy. We cannot establish a sustainable economy without a modern system of energy taxation.

I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Ms Lulling. We worked well together, despite our differing opinions on a few matters.


  Philippe De Backer, on behalf of the ALDE Group. (NL) Mr President, tomorrow, the European Parliament will give its final opinion on the reform of current taxes on energy products. I support the Commission’s desire to split the existing energy tax into two components, energy content, on the one hand, and the CO2 component, on the other.

With this dual tax, it is essential that we eliminate competitive distortions that exist in Europe today. Together, these two components will determine the rates at which various energy products will be taxed. Energy efficiency plays a very important role here, as do environmentally friendly products that we hope we can promote in this way.

I therefore hope that Parliament will support the Commission’s proposal for fairer energy taxation. Member States should be encouraged to tax competing energy products that are used for the same purposes, such as motor fuels, on an equal and proportional basis; equal calculation based on their CO2 emissions and their energy content, because that will result precisely in the creation of a technology-neutral landscape. It will also result in us leaving the choice of the energy product to the market. It is consumers, companies, that will choose their energy products and no longer we politicians.

When that happens, we will also be allowing new sources of energy to get a fair chance on the market and greater market access. That will also serve to encourage innovation; it is an incentive for us to seek out the most energy-efficient energy products.

Tomorrow, during the vote, I will, in any case, be thinking of the future and asking Member States to tax energy products on an equal basis, without giving preference to certain fuels, as has actually been the case in the past. I call on my colleagues to do the same, not to look to the short term, but to strive for a sufficiently long transitional period, so that companies and consumers, as well as providers, can adapt to the new situation.

Parliament’s opinion to the Member States is not binding, of course, but I would, nonetheless, call on Member States to opt for a fair and sustainable tax structure which is based on an equal and proportional treatment of all energy products.


  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Mr President, like Ms Van Brempt, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance would really have liked to have made this proposal more ambitious. I think that the Commission’s proposal is moderate and we would have liked to make it more ambitious.

In saying this, what do we mean? We hear the rapporteur, Astrid Lulling, and Markus Ferber, who has done us the honour of no longer being here, criticise us for wanting, in one way or another, to make the world a better place and, on the other hand, announce to us the end of this world, as ultimately, from what we understand from you, this proposal would result in the collapse of the European economy.

So, what do we mean? We propose lowering taxes on energy products on actual elements, that is to say, halting the current subsidies on one type of fuel to the detriment of another, on the basis of nothing other than industry lobbying. We then proposed introducing a little rationality into the system, and yet you rejected this outright, even though you are often the one who preaches rationality to us. Then we talked to you about a system that would come into force between 2018 and 2025. As if industry and society could not adapt if we were to make a start, and I simply mean make a start, in six years time. Come on. In your eyes, this would destroy our economy.

I have often heard German MEPs, in particular, those from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the liberals, giving lessons in good governance to the rest of Europe and indeed to the rest of the world. Today, I note that it is the same MEPs who have become trade representatives for the German automotive industry. This happens all too often and, I would like to say to those German MEPs, it has destroyed your credibility.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))


  Hans-Peter Martin (NI), Blue-card question. – (DE) Mr President, I have a question for you, Mr Lamberts. Taxing CO2 is all well and good, but how, in your opinion, does the mechanism you propose as having a quasi-neutral effect in the market, where the tax increase will mean that consumers will simply be offered the products in a different form, take account of the problem that nuclear power stations do not actually produce CO2 and therefore may be hugely advantaged by this directive and other measures witnessed in this House?


  Philippe Lamberts (Verts/ALE), Blue-card answer. (FR) Mr President, we cannot resolve all our problems with a single instrument – Mr Langen, your turn will come – and, in fact, the nuclear industry causes externalities, if I may use economic terminology, of a different nature and scope to the climatic externalities that we have discussed for renewable energy, and it must also help in the process of remedying these externalities. We know all too well that the sums involved are on a different scale and a whole new level, but nevertheless, in the Member States where we are permitted to do so, we can be relied upon to implement this type of taxation. Some countries have already started and will show that this type of energy is not economically viable.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))


  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE), Blue-card question.(DE) I simply wanted to ask Mr Lamberts whether he might consider assuming that the Members of the House, whatever their nationality and whatever their political affiliation, pursue honest motives in their political activities, and whether he might refrain in future from slanderous and belittling remarks.


  Philippe Lamberts (Verts/ALE), Blue-card answer.(FR) Mr President, I have been delighted to observe in the last few days the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the French automotive industry, as well as others, engaging in intense lobbying.

This industry even has a track record, as it refuses to accept change, rejects CO2 emissions standards and which, today, undertakes intensive lobbying. Who does it lobby? MEPs, clearly to prevent restrictive measures being taken. I simply wanted to state that I have noticed this influence.

You will, without doubt, say that I am drawing fairly far-reaching conclusions, so I must draw my conclusions from the statistical evidence. I am watching to see who reacts and in what way.


  Evžen Tošenovský, on behalf of the ECR Group. (CS) Mr President, the directive submitted is an important part of the key debate on EU energy policy. The submitted draft again, unfortunately, involves heavy administrative intervention in the energy sector. With the current preference – and the sometimes exaggerated direct financial support – for renewables, the situation on the market may get even worse. In some countries, for example, we have seen excessive support for solar power, with long-term commitments to purchase electricity at inflated prices. It is now clear that this results in huge business with highly negative impacts. The result is often dramatic, unsustainable increases in energy prices for firms and individuals, and an attempt by governments to rein in this fiscally dangerous development.

I am therefore concerned about this heavy regulatory intervention, which may lead to a downturn in manufacturing opportunities in many countries, and may also have significant and incalculable social effects in Member States. Overall, this may put at risk the global competitiveness of the EU.


  Claudio Morganti, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is fine to defend and safeguard the environment, but I should like to know just how far we want to go. The cost of energy products has reached record levels in many countries, like Italy, where filling up a car has become astronomically expensive.

The solution proposed would undoubtedly lead to further increases in fuel and energy costs, and the people who would have to pay would be the usual ones, the people for whom a vehicle is essential for working and getting about. I do not believe that the European Union can allow such a situation to happen, as it would bring many strategic areas of production to their knees and lead to a rise in energy and fuel bills.

In Italy, the Monti government is also thinking of introducing a nationwide ‘carbon tax’. One blow leads to another and if we do this, citizens and businesses will go under in the name of a false and extreme environmentalism which, in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, is just a way of raising money indiscriminately.


  Sabine Wils, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Mr President, the fundamental tenor of the Commission’s proposal and of the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in relation to the Energy Taxation Directive would facilitate the uniform handling of all sources of energy by 2023 by following a technically neutral approach with a minimum tax rate for all traded fuels and electricity, based on CO2 and energy content. At the same time, incentives would be established for the use of less polluting energy products for the transition to a low carbon economy.

The proposed directive would provide three important tax incentives: firstly, for the reduction of CO2 emissions, secondly, for the saving of energy, and thirdly, for the promotion of a changeover to more energy-efficient fuels and more environmentally sound energy production. The adjustment for diesel fuel to bring it into line with the taxation of petrol could place pressure on the motor industry to develop more energy-efficient engines. In the United Kingdom, both fuels are already taxed to the same level. The EU’s objective of minimum taxation establishes equal conditions for all.


  Hans-Peter Martin (NI).(DE) Mr President, of course Brussels is a battlefield! The difference is that, rather than armies, we have battalions of interest groups. We have heard reference to the motor industry. However, the nuclear lobby has been particularly vociferous on the issue of CO2.

Which brings me to a fundamental problem with this report. As long as a technically neutral approach is not adopted and as long as CO2 emissions are measured wholly in terms of reduction, nuclear power stations in France and elsewhere will come off very well indeed and will be subject to very low levels of taxation. Of course, that is completely the wrong way to go about things. The fact is that if we actually consider CO2 emissions on the basis of the energy units produced, then nuclear power stations are by no means as CO2-friendly as this lobby would have us believe. Comparative figures relating to upstream and downstream processes in uranium production and in the reprocessing of fuel rods show that nuclear power stations fuelled by Russian uranium produce about 65 grams of carbon dioxide per Kilowatt-hour, placing them far behind the renewable energies we all favour, whether hydropower or wind energy. If we approve this report in its current form, then we shall be knowingly buying a pig in a poke.

I tabled a corresponding amendment in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, demanding that emissions during the degradation processes involved in the reprocessing of the fuels required for energy production in nuclear power stations should also be taken into account. This amendment was shot down. Accordingly, if we follow the Lulling report, written as it is by someone who openly supports the widespread use of nuclear power, we shall be moving backwards towards a radioactive past, rather than forward into a rational future.


  Mario Mauro (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in the belief based on Mr Lamberts’ speech that the best way to scupper the opinions of those opposing these rules is to identify them as dangerous lobbyists, I shall build my argument on a car-oriented framework. I think we are basing our conduct on the principle that ‘the polluter pays’, which is a good principle, a sacred principle, and sometimes applies to the Formula One circuits.

In Formula One, you race to win. When some people, rather than racing to win, race to push their opponent off the track, accidents happen. At this point, the safety car comes onto the scene to restart the race on a fairer basis. I believe that unless we also approve the rapporteur’s approach, and therefore approve the amendments, we shall approve this new tax indiscriminately, and by doing so we shall have raced to push our opponent off the track. Our opponent in this case is our businesses and our citizens, who have the right not to view these taxes as a way of taking possession of their life, and we shall also be doing a disservice to the principle of ‘the polluter pays’.

I believe that we need to have a balanced approach, and therefore we support the rapporteur’s approach and should like the amendments she has proposed to be approved, precisely so all of Europe can be given not only the possibility of having a better environment, but also of having a better environment while continuing to compete with the other great world powers. Otherwise, our proposals to our citizens shall be lacking in credibility and they will punish us by considering all our standpoints to be merely abstract.


  Marita Ulvskog (S&D).(SV) Mr President, the targets we have set for climate policy are not castles in the air. They are legally binding for the Member States and they are crystal clear. We have decided to reduce climate-relevant emissions by 20% by 2020. Today’s decision concerns how we are to do this. All research shows that putting a price on carbon dioxide results in cost-effective reductions in emissions. The price of carbon dioxide is driving progress in technological development and essential adaptations in society. Therefore, every Member who voted for our climate targets should support the principles in the Energy Taxation Directive and, conversely, anyone who rejects this directive also rejects our climate policy targets and structure, because without this directive, we will continue to live with rules that result in a higher rate of taxation on biofuels than on fossil fuels, that do not provide cost-effective reductions in emissions, and that run the risk of double taxation on account of the poor coordination of the emissions trading system. The proposal we have received from the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is not as ambitious as it could be, but it retains the key elements of the Commission’s proposal for a new Energy Taxation Directive. This cautious proposal for amending the structure of energy taxation takes a belt and braces approach and also contains a few safety nets.

Parliament is merely being consulted on this matter now. The Council will decide with unanimity, and what we say here will have no formal significance. Nevertheless, the vote tomorrow is crucial, because it is a question of the credibility of decisions we have made in the past in relation to climate and environment policy. I believe it is time for the European Parliament to accept its responsibility. Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to demonstrate that we do not vote only when there is absolutely no substance to the decisions being made.


  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, what do Düsseldorf and Dortmund, Herten and Essen, Arnsberg and Würselen have in common? They are all places where the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) Members of the European Parliament for North Rhine-Westphalia live. The people of North Rhine-Westphalia hear from Ms Kraft that the SPD’s aim is to protect and promote both industry and the region as an industrial heartland. At the same time, these Members from Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Essen and other places are now about to vote for a massive increase in the price of diesel, this despite the fact that Germany and Europe lead the world in this energy-efficient and environmentally friendly drive technology.

The consequences of this price increase are clear: rising prices, a decline in internal demand, a threat to technological superiority and to the survival of the industrial base. If this really is the Social Democrats’ industrial policy, then we can say good night to North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and Europe. The truth is that this makes no economic or environmental sense. If we consider rising fuel costs, which have already reached record levels, then we must recognise that we are inhibiting internal demand, despite the fact that the Social Democrats are always looking to stimulate growth in this area.

This makes no sense from an environmental perspective either. We all know that diesel-powered vehicles travel further on less fuel than petrol-driven vehicles. That is why I would call on the Social Democrats to reconsider the consequences for the people, the consumers and the drivers of Germany and Europe of their vote tomorrow. It is high time that the SPD espoused an economic policy that targets success, not just on election posters, but also in specific political action.


  Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE). (NL) Mr President, of course, it is always nice to see that when we discuss our tax system in general terms, we are always in favour of greening our taxation system. We always want to include environmental costs in the pricing, until it becomes concrete. According to some of my colleagues, this is the point at which we have to, all of a sudden, stand up for the internal market. If that is the case, do stop, in future, this environmental rhetoric which appears to be purely for show. Then we will know once and for all that, from now on, we will never have to listen to it any more.

However, do let us make proper use of the facts. It has been said that the diesel price will increase for everyone. That is simply not true! Perhaps for Luxembourg, which now has a tax of 32 cents per litre. Yes, that tax will have to be increased to 40 cents in 2018! Luxembourg will, no doubt, find this difficult, but Germany already has a 47 cent tax. This means that Germany will not have to make any changes whatsoever until 2018. Why has no one mentioned this?

And the suggestion that this could spell the end of the diesel engine, what nonsense! Where is petrol the most expensive? In the Netherlands! 70% more expensive than diesel. Where do you have the smallest number of diesel vehicles? Exactly, in the Netherlands! So, let us use the facts properly; this is a very modest proposal and let us please, for once, translate this rhetoric about including environmental costs in the pricing into action.


  Roger Helmer (EFD). – Mr President, there is so much wrong with this proposal that in sixty seconds, I hardly know where to start.

First of all, it is a move towards tax harmonisation. But tax harmonisation is a cartel operated by governments against the interests of citizens. The United Kingdom Independence Party, which I represent, is in favour of tax competition, not tax harmonisation.

Secondly, the proposal aims to increase energy taxes. This will reduce the profitability of European companies and undermine Europe’s competitiveness in global markets.

Thirdly, the proposal adds yet another layer of complexity to the existing multiple layers of energy taxes and regulations. Fourthly, taxation is, and must remain, a national competence. This measure represents an unwarranted interference by the Brussels institutions in the internal affairs of Member States.

For all these reasons, I call on colleagues to reject the proposal.


  Anne Delvaux (PPE).(FR) Mr President, I believe that taxation is an interesting tool for bringing about behavioural change. I think that energy consumption must include an indicative price signal for consumers and, above all, I think that in order to prevent any distorting effect on the internal market, we must try to harmonise our tax systems. The principle of proportionality of different levels of taxation on energy products therefore seemed to me to be a necessity. In the case in hand, for example, this would allow us to put an end to the current diesel tourism that we are witnessing, which is not an acceptable practice. Therefore, I share the thinking behind the proposed revision of the Commission’s directive.

Nevertheless, while we have to find a way to meet our objectives in terms of reducing CO2 emissions or of energy efficiency, we must equally ensure that our collective decisions do not penalise citizens or sectors that are particularly vulnerable to the price volatility in global markets, for example, the agriculture sector

The draft directive would have an effect on the price of diesel; obviously, this would vary according to the level of taxation of each Member State, but it would have an impact all the same. The question is this: at the end of the day, who will have to shoulder this price increase? Are there any real practical, realistic alternatives available to the consumer? As shadow rapporteur for the Committee on the Environment, Public Heath and Food Safety, I support an ambitious position but, above all, one that is sustainable for all.

Therefore, I call for a more progressive report and entry into force of the proposal and its principle of proportionality in 2030, with a new impact study updating the one on which the Commission bases its judgment, which was, however, carried out five years ago.


  Bernd Lange (S&D).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, you will have noticed from Mr Lambsdorff’s remarks that the issue here is not an objective debate, but rather the elections in Germany. All I can say here is that for a party on the political defensive, a debate like this, with so many wrong-headed arguments, may be one way to stay afloat. However this is to ignore the facts. The situation in Germany is that the government supported by Mr Lambsdorff’s party already levies a tax rate on diesel above the future minimum tax rate. At present, we have a minimum tax rate of EUR 0.33 in Germany, which would be increased to EUR 0.41; however, the German Government already takes EUR 0.47. In other words, there would be no immediate change. Thus, it is wrong to say that the price of diesel fuel will sky-rocket in the morning.

The second point is proportionality. We Social Democrats have always said that proportionality is not unconditional. We have tabled Amendment 15 precisely with this in mind. We must not drive the diesel engine to extinction through taxation. We Social Democrats proposed this amendment, which the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs was happy to adopt. But what happens next? Obviously our Liberal and Conservative colleagues distrust their own governments because the definition of the absolute tax rate is still a matter for the Member States and their governments. The level of distrust is so great that they believe that if this resolution is adopted, the governments they support will increase diesel taxes. That is why I can understand it when people say that this distrust will result in the rejection of proportionality. If your distrust really is so great, then I believe it is right to reject proportionality in this case.

I have one final word to add. If everyone is suddenly a supporter of diesel, then I find myself wondering why these governments are not moving to switch from taxing cars to taxing CO2 emissions, benefiting the more economical diesel engine. You can do this immediately without consulting Europe. What is stopping you?


  Sven Giegold (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Langen has already set out the objective arguments. The arguments that we have heard here in this debate and in the German media are, in fact, anything but objective. The central point is that this directive largely leaves it to the Member States to decide on the level of taxation on diesel and petrol. In essence, we are establishing a level playing field here. Effectively, only the general tax and fuel tax havens will have to increase their taxes. It is up to Germany to decide for itself whether or not to increase the tax rate for diesel fuel.

What I find disturbing, Mr Lambsdorff, if I might address you directly, is this: like me, you are a supporter of Europe. However, to ignore the fact that Germany lays down the rules itself is an anathema for Europeans and, in the final analysis, engenders a feeling of aggravation with Europe among the Germans, instead of contributing to an objective discussion of the matter to be decided here.




  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). – Mr President, the main problem, if you take a global perspective, is not the use of energy as such but emissions as regards their effect on the climate and the environment.

We know that some energy fuels or sources produce lower emissions: renewables, bio-fuels, nuclear power, and that some emit more: gas, oil and coal. The problem is, of course, that if we tax the energy more than the emissions, we are creating a situation where we are hindering the emergence of competitive new renewable energy resources.

The problem is that if we do not tax the environmental consequences, we get a situation – as has been mentioned in this debate – where diesel, for example, becomes more expensive than petrol. That is, of course, a problem for those who use diesel cars. But the main problem is that we have a system of taxation that is hindering the best energy sources while supporting the old energy sources. That is the problem with this proposal: it is not doing these things straight by supporting the emergence of new energy sources.


  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE).(PL) Mr President, Mr Hökmark said the price of diesel is a problem for those who use diesel cars. I think there are at least two reasons why it is also, to a large extent, a problem for the European economy. Firstly, a few days ago, I had the opportunity to look at the balance of trade between Taiwan, for example, and Europe and to talk about this. Well, it turns out that we are buying their computers and trying to rescue our balance of trade by selling them meat.

It seems to me that when it comes to cars, diesel technology in particular was developed by European concerns and is a European technology – I do not mean it is a German technology, because I am Polish and do not represent the German lobby, although I did once have a German car which, Mr Lamberts, was made in Belgium – and in terms of diesel, Europe is a world leader, diesel is a technology in which we have a competitive advantage, and if we are going to try to kill it with administrative requirements and taxation, this will be done to the cost of the European consumer and the European economy.

We have to say clearly – because different figures are being bandied about, here – that this piece of legislation means the cost of diesel in Europe will rise by not less than 10%, and, of course, we have agreed to reduce the level of CO2 by 20% or even 30%, but – I am speaking here to those who have appealed for consistency – no one has agreed that the remaining 70% should cost 15% or 20% more.

We have a similar problem with coal: 30% of the European economy today is dependent on the production of coal, and raising the cost of energy by 25% or 30% from one day to the next – because five years in economic terms is from one day to the next – will mean Europe will have to bear a great many economic consequences.


  Richard Seeber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would like to tell the Commission clearly that the timing of this proposal is wrong and that it does not go far enough. I would also like to ask a question of Mr Lambsdorff, who has taken the opportunity for a bit of electioneering. He has praised Germany’s liberal stance, but what about his liberal colleagues in other countries? Perhaps he should look to put his own house in order there, too.

Mr Eickhout and Mr Giegold have also emphasised that we opposed specific environmental taxes. However, I would like to ask these gentlemen a question: what about revenue neutrality? Does it make sense to keep on introducing new taxes? We are open to discussions on this. However, the overall effect must be revenue neutral, even when it comes to environmental taxes. I would also ask the Social Democrats the same question: suddenly, now that the story has hit the media, you are getting cold feet and no longer have the confidence to stand behind your arguments. I think this is a pity.

I believe that when we come to discuss these matters, we must take a global approach. By a global approach I mean that we should not focus on the energy content and CO2 emissions of fuels, but rather that we should look at the overall tax situation in the Member States – with regard to cars, for example. Mr Eickhout said that the Netherlands has a small proportion of diesel. Why is that? That may be the case, but we need to take a look at registration taxes and day-to-day taxes. In Austria, we have a very high NOVA levy, an additional tax on top of Value Added Tax, based on CO2 emissions. If we wish to discuss these taxes, then we need to look at the overall concept, not isolated interventions. That is precisely what we need. The Commission should also take this into consideration. That is why I am a little disappointed to see support for such a patchwork approach in the clear knowledge that we will not find a majority among the Member States.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))


  Bernd Lange (S&D), Blue-card question. (DE) Mr Seeber, I have a supplementary question. Are you unaware that we Social Democrats tabled an amendment in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs drawing attention to precisely this problem – namely, that this could lead to problems with industrial policy and the questioning of the CO2 reduction strategy for cars – and that this amendment was adopted by the Economic Affairs Committee?


  Richard Seeber (PPE), Blue-card answer. (DE) Mr Lange, we now need to clarify how things stand in relation to these technologies. As an expert in cars, you will know that there is a lot of debate as to whether diesel really is the more harmful fuel over a particular distance and at a particular engine speed. We should discuss these fundamental questions from the start. You will no doubt agree with me that we need a consistent overall approach.

I am unaware of the specific amendment submitted to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. It would perhaps have made sense to vote in favour of it. However, let us talk about the overall approach, and perhaps you would be so good as to tell your constituents that you are in favour of increasing the price of diesel.


  Werner Langen (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would like to point out that the Commission seems to have lost its way. In 2008 and 2011, we agreed on strict rules for cars and small commercial vehicles. This enabled us to promote diesel technology, producing more fuel-efficient engines and achieving genuine progress. We demanded that the efficiencies should be achieved in the engine itself. The opposite tack is now being taken. We are now proposing an artificial increase in tax rates, and whether the rates are above or below this in Germany is irrelevant; the point is this will lead to a further distortion of competition.

We are leaders in diesel technology. This has nothing to do with the lobby groups from the motor industry or with nuclear energy in Russia; the issue at stake is whether we should impose stringent energy-efficiency measures on industry, whose interests we represent here, bringing about measurable successes, only to do away with them again with the other hand. This is a contradictory approach. This is a matter for the Commission and I hope, Commissioner, that we reject this particular policy point with a clear majority tomorrow. It will be rejected by the Council anyway, just as all similar attempts have failed over the last 20 years. I believe and hope that this attempt will meet with a similar fate tomorrow because the Commission’s proposals are contradictory and lack a clear approach.


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Zofija Mazej Kukovič (PPE). (SL) Mr President, as an experienced businesswoman, I feel strongly about the economic crisis affecting companies today and I sympathise hugely with economic operators who do not have a lot of influence over external factors. Employees are naturally worried about their jobs and, in this respect, I very much agree with the rapporteur and recognise her desire to make progress while remaining grounded in reality. As Mr Seeber said, this directive has come at a difficult time. We must take this difficult time into account alongside these minimal changes, to ensure they are acceptable today and acceptable to Europe’s economy and to its citizens.


  Spyros Danellis (S&D).(EL) Mr President, I wish to comment on the recent abrogation of the tax exemptions that apply in the shipping and aviation sectors. As an objective, limiting carbon emissions in these two sectors is not only desirable; it is absolutely necessary. The demand for services in both sectors is predicted to double by 2050 and, of course, it would be criminal for us to allow carbon emissions to rise commensurately.

However, our approach should guarantee the final result. Both sectors, especially ocean-going shipping, will present a very serious risk of ‘carbon leakage’ if fuel is taxed at EU level by bunkering their ships outside the European Union and modifying their transport routes. That is why, if it is to be effective, fuel taxes on ships should be introduced solely at global level.


  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I think that the proposals tabled by the Commission and the amendments proposed in the report will help, to a large extent, adapt this directive to the environmental and climate change objectives which the EU has also taken on, based on a taxation system encouraging energy products with the least environmental impact. However, just like other colleagues, I have serious reservations about the principle of proportionality and the impact which it could have on the price of diesel. At a time when European consumers are, in any case, under pressure from fuel prices, I do not believe that it would be the ideal time for this diesel price increase. It would also dampen the interest shown by consumers in vehicles running on this kind of fuel, thereby also having an impact on the European Union’s car manufacturing industry. Given that diesel engines are one of the assets of European industry, I think that we could lose this comparative advantage, not to mention that we will not enjoy the environmental benefit either because of the difference in energy terms between using petrol and diesel.


  Paul Rübig (PPE).(DE) Mr President, an energy minister from a non-European producer country once proposed giving Europe all his energy free-of-charge if we were prepared to share the tax revenue with him. This says a lot about the issue at stake here, namely, that we need to remain competitive in relation to energy. This is also why I am unsure about what reliefs Commissioner Šemeta has in mind with this proposal, because it is naturally important to relieve the work- and performance-related tax burden if consumption and energy-related aspects are to be taxed more heavily. The main problem is that this move should be revenue neutral. However, we have no proposals for how we can relieve some of the tax burden on European workers and companies. On the contrary, I am constantly hearing proposals for new types of charges. If we are to remain competitive, then we must put forward proposals to reduce the tax burden as well.


  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Mr President, the current draft directive is certainly important, and is also necessary. Building a low carbon, energy-efficient economy is more than important. Adherence to ‘proportionality’ between the various minimum thresholds set at EU level would, for example, lead to a substantial increase in the price of diesel in many Member States. Moreover, in Slovakia, in my country, the downturn in the sector involved in the manufacture of diesel engines would result in the loss of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of jobs. Proportionality would also have a negative impact on retail prices, and this is something we really cannot afford in the current economic crisis. During policy making, we should think, in particular, about burdening the citizens of the European Union as little as possible with increased levies and charges that are not absolutely necessary. Let us focus instead on the big energy companies, Commissioner, which every year report high profits, and let us not burden consumers with higher levies and charges.


End of the catch-the-eye procedure


  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, I would like to thank you for your views expressed during this debate. As you may know, the Danish Presidency views this file as a high priority. However, the positions of Member States on major issues are still very divergent and even opposing. In particular, support for, and opposition to, the principle of the split in the tax base, with a CO2 and energy content element, remains fairly evenly distributed.

Your strong support and constructive approach in this area would therefore be an important signal for the Member States. As mentioned by Ms Van Brempt, it is time to show some backbone in our objectives. After all, this proposal reflects what Parliament has been calling for for years. I would like to remind you all that this proposal is a key initiative in the Single Market Act. Everybody supports the Single Market Act, and the proposal on the Energy Taxation Directive is one of 12 key initiatives in this.

As I said earlier, the Commission can accept some of the amendments adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), including some proposing longer transitional periods. It will endeavour to take these amendments into consideration as much as possible during the deliberations in the Council. Several other amendments are already covered by the proposal. As regards the treatment of agriculture, I would like to make it clear that the Member States will retain the possibility of exempting agriculture, provided that some environmental counterpart is ensured.

The debate today has concentrated on transport fuels. However, I would like to stress again that isolating the CO2 element in energy taxation would allow companies that are subject to the ETS to be exempt from it. This would mean lower taxes and increased growth. Again, I wish to thank you for your broad support in moving forward with this initiative, and I hope that the vote tomorrow will be very positive.


  Astrid Lulling, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, as you know, if something is exaggerated, it is worth nothing. That is why I will not respond to those fellow Members who have spoken about what I accept is a very controversial subject, but without the necessary seriousness and objectivity and, unfortunately, by engaging in poor-taste populism – especially on the part of the Greens – or by talking about the wrong topic, as some Non-attached Members are doing.

We have to get used to the situation. At a time when crude prices are soaring, it is not good enough to say that on top of that we need to increase taxes, which already represent up to two-thirds of pump prices. Do you want to be complicit in the message that the European Parliament would now be sending to our citizens and our industries – that fuel prices, especially diesel prices, would have to sky-rocket? You will live up to your responsibilities tomorrow; we will see that. For my part, I am convinced that the European Parliament will send the right signal to the Member States.

(DE) I would like to tell Mr Lambsdorff that I am happy he has recognised that it is important that the German Social Democrats – not just the Members for North Rhine-Westphalia – should stand up for what they believe and listen to the Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG-Metall) and its works councils. This will put you on track.

I would like to make a correction regarding Mr Giegold’s contribution. What he said is incorrect. Germany cannot increase the price of diesel. If proportionality is to apply, then Germany, irrespective of how high its taxes are, must tax diesel at 9% higher than petrol. I needed to correct this. Tomorrow, we shall see how the House views the issue.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday, 19 April 2012, at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Arkadiusz Tomasz Bratkowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The crucial area of energy policy was, is and will continue to be determined by the state, and introducing universal measures for the whole of Europe in this area, while each country has a different energy mix, may lead to a situation in which one or many EU Member States are adversely affected by the decision taken. In the context of restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity, I would like to call attention not just to action for better protection of the environment, but also to measures which meet the expectations of the citizens and industry, and which, as a consequence, affect such areas as economic growth, unemployment and energy prices.

In the final analysis, the measures we employ should take account of the interests of the citizens we represent. With reference to Poland and the Lubelskie Voivodship, I would like to appeal for the right of my country to an optional application of the emission factor component of the amended Council directive, and also to call attention to Poland’s right to use its substantial resources of coal on a competitive basis and – here I would like to draw attention to terminology – in the framework of a low emission economy, not a low carbon economy, because, of course, in view of the technologies available, using coal does not have to mean a rise in CO2 emissions.


  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The proposal for a directive on the taxation of energy products and electricity is certainly ambitious in terms of environmental protection. I agree that we need to cut CO2 emissions significantly, not only from the aspect of environmental sustainability, but also for the sake of European citizens’ health. However, the proposal is being made at a difficult juncture for the European economy. Raising the levels of excise duties on energy products and electricity could cause budget receipts to increase. However, it is again the EU citizens already affected by the implementation of tough austerity measures who would bear the brunt of such decisions, vulnerable households in particular. There are also plans to raise the minimum level of excise duty on diesel from 2013, with the current level of duty being lower on diesel than on petrol. This is not a realistic deadline for implementing such a measure without upsetting the market in Member States where diesel is preferred by car owners, precisely because it costs less. Therefore, I call for the Commission’s proposal to be opposed as it does not represent European consumers’ interests fairly.


  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. (CS) While the current Directive 2003/96/EC on the taxation of energy products and electricity lays down rules for products that are subject to taxation, tax exemptions, and minimum rates of taxation for fuels and electricity based on the amount of energy consumed, the new draft prioritises linking energy policy to the objective of a low carbon economy. Under the Commission proposal, energy taxation would be divided into two parts. One of these would be a tax on CO2 emissions (EUR 20 per tonne of CO2) and the second would be a payment based on product energy content. Member States will be able to increase both parts of the tax above these minimum rates. I welcome the fact that agriculture, as a strategic sector securing the population’s food supply, will continue to enjoy the same reduced rates as before. I accept the arguments for the better use of energy sources and the greater use of cleaner energy. Just like the rapporteur, however, I am concerned about the sharp increase in prices of energy and fuel, particularly diesel. The increase will be a burden not only on direct consumers, but also the entire European economy. It is also essential for us to view this issue from a global economic perspective, and to consider the consequences of our decisions even more carefully than in the past. Setting a fuel and energy tax that will be applied only in the Member States of the EU will introduce further inequalities on the global market, and our economies will consequently be saddled with an even greater burden.


  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing.(RO) I believe that it would be a big mistake to impose additional burdens on citizens during the current crisis. Unfortunately, this is precisely what this directive could do as it could result in rising energy, electricity and fuel prices. The report adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs rejected the suggestion made by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy to reduce the high price imposed on CO2 emissions, and this will be reflected in the prices charged to consumers. Furthermore, although some references are made to groups of people on low incomes, the measures for protecting them remain vague and ineffective. This new directive could have a very serious social impact, especially in Member States like Romania where tough measures have already been imposed on citizens, such as mass redundancies, salary cuts or tax hikes. This directive would double the additional fiscal burden imposed on these people: they would pay both the direct energy taxes and the cost generated by the inflation which would be fuelled by these taxes. I believe that these are legitimate concerns, which is why I think that we should reconsider our support for this directive.


  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing.(IT) One of the aims of the amendment to this directive concerns the introduction of a tax component linked to CO2 emissions in order to give a tax benefit to cleaner products. However, the Commission’s proposal, which would require Member States to tax products used for the same purpose at the same rate and remove the possibility of exemption for some products, risks having the sole effect of increasing the tax burden to unsustainable levels precisely on fuels which, in fact, help to reduce environmental pollution. For example, in the case of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used as a fuel, there would be an increase of approximately EUR 0.37 per litre. It is superfluous to add that LPG vehicles would lose any economic advantage over comparable petrol-run vehicles. The same goes for natural gas and methane. More tax on these two products would not only be counter-productive in terms of environmental protection, but would also jeopardise the introduction and more widespread use of a sustainable, clean fuel like biomethane. I therefore hope that the principle of proportionality of excise duties will be eliminated in order to guarantee that Member States have the necessary flexibility to set tax levels in accordance with their own energy policies.


  Adam Gierek (S&D), in writing.(PL) This legislation is a way of doing damage dreamed up by officials in the Commission, who supposedly carried out extensive consultations with society while drafting measures to extend the Climate and Energy Package. This cannot be the truth. In spite of the fact that each Member State has its own means of promoting sustainable development, a standardised route to achievement of the 3x20 objectives has been imposed, with complete disregard for the subsidiarity principle. The Climate and Energy Package has put the brakes on energy investment in Poland, creating a situation which threatens the country’s energy security. While the package, which was to have been vetoed, will, from 2013, hit at ordinary people by causing a rise in the price mainly of electricity, this legislation will affect them even more strongly by causing a rise in the price of fuels needed for heating and transport.

Households in Poland, and rural households in particular, use mainly coal for heating and, from 2013, the price of coal – in accordance with the scandalous proposal submitted by the Commission – will rise by around 50%. Both the Climate and Energy Package and this anti-Poland legislation are a form of camouflaged protectionism for certain Member States which have low carbon economies, and those who are saying they are only interested in climate protection are downright hypocrites. We should categorically reject the tax being proposed by the Commission because it is anti-social, and we should also make appropriate modifications to the ill-advised Climate and Energy Package because it, too, is anti-social and is already causing unemployment.


  Edit Herczog (S&D), in writing.(HU) The decisions we made on the taxation of energy today will have a serious impact on Europe’s competitiveness in the coming decades. Vital issues like the taxation of energy must be examined in every detail, including from an environmental, energy, industrial and even a social policy perspective. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the reform of taxation results in a clearer, more transparent tax policy with no excessive administration. A tax structure encouraging both energy efficiency and low carbon dioxide emissions can serve not only to reinforce the EU budget but also to facilitate the financing of future Member State projects related to green energy development and research into renewable energy sources. Similarly, this revenue could also be used to support efforts to increase European nuclear safety.

Moreover, a single tax system could also assist efforts such as the training of energy users, the measurement and improvement of the efficiency of green energy and any necessary alternative energy sources, and not least the support of green small enterprises. As a Socialist MEP, my chief concern is for European citizens to have access to affordable and safe energy. While we do need sustainable development, renewable energy sources, efficient taxation of energy, and sufficiently secure energy reserves, we must not for a single moment forget about the population’s burden-bearing capacity.


  Vladimir Urutchev (PPE), in writing. (BG) The existing taxation of energy products according to volumes of consumption is not in line with the EU’s long-term energy targets. The introduction of two tax components for carbon dioxide and the energy content of fuels is a step in the right direction – towards reducing carbon emissions, decreasing fuel consumption and achieving its most efficient use. However, why does the Commission, in the midst of an economic crisis, when fuel prices are constantly rising, dare to propose a tax increase on energy products right now? Could it not plan a smooth transition to the new tax rules without increasing taxes? Nowadays, when two thirds of the price of fuel can be attributed to taxation, why are we raising it? Who will ultimately pay for these increases? Why have we targeted diesel where we have invested the most money and made the most innovations to make it have the lowest emissions and run the most efficient engines? This money has not even been recouped yet. This is why I, along with many colleagues, am against dealing right now yet another blow to the economy, its competitiveness and citizens’ incomes through an unnecessary, harmful and artificial tax increase on energy products, especially on diesel. On the contrary, let us keep more tax breaks, including under the new tax rules being proposed.


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The proposal for amending the directive on restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity introduces two energy taxation components: one with taxation relating to carbon dioxide emissions and the other relating to the general consumption of energy. Introducing taxation based on carbon dioxide emissions is tantamount to introducing a carbon tax, which will affect industry, households and European competitiveness. I think that abolishing the exemptions and reductions which currently apply will be difficult for households to bear, especially during the current economic crisis when unemployment is at an alarming rate and there has been a drop in the quality of life for many European households. The rise in diesel duty will also have an adverse impact on both car owners and the car industry which has already invested, in keeping with European regulations, in cleaner engines. I welcome the adoption of the amendments tabled, through which we called for an exemption to apply to electricity used for irrigation and for a tax exemption to be applied up to 1 January 2023 for electricity used to charge electric and hybrid vehicles. I think that setting a carbon dioxide-related tax at EUR 20/tonne is arbitrary. This value should be set by the market and not altered arbitrarily by the Commission simply to make investments in renewable energy profitable.

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