In the fight against high fuel prices, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck is sticking to the proposal for a so-called excess profit tax, which the FDP rejected, but at the same time is promoting an alternative he has put forward.
A tax on excess profits does not seem to be able to win a majority in the coalition, said the Greens politician on Deutschlandfunk on Monday and referred to the rejection by Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP).
“I don’t know if anything is still moving there,” said Habeck. However, he cannot and will not take the idea off the table because he thinks it is right. He will submit a proposal “that has a similar effect on target.” That is why it is now important to reform antitrust law as quickly as possible, said Habeck: “We are making antitrust law with claws and teeth.”
On June 1st, the energy tax on petrol and diesel was reduced significantly to relieve motorists. But this was hardly noticeable at the pumps. About half of the reduction was passed on, said Habeck, which was “of course not at all satisfactory”. Habeck used a considerable part of the approximately ten-minute interview for a less clandestine settlement with Finance Minister Christian Lindner and the FDP.
Habeck called the original concept for the tank discount “quasi an invitation to loot against the state” and made it clear once again that the tank discount was not a wish of the Greens, but a concern of the FDP.
He also said that assigning blame to who within the government alliance of the SPD, Greens and FDP was responsible for the tank discount that had failed so far would not help. At the same time, he emphasized that this tax cut was never what the Greens wanted. “But if a not-so-good idea goes badly, then of course you still have to help.”
There have been enough warning voices, said Habeck with a view to the so-called tank discount. But now it’s about looking ahead and “not letting yourself be maneuvered into complete helplessness”. And further: “If a not so good idea goes badly, then of course you still have to help.”
Habeck said he himself had warned against implementation. But now he wants to “look ahead”. So he will take responsibility “to make the mess a little less big,” said Habeck. “We are all entitled to it together now.”
Habeck now wants to give the Cartel Office more opportunities to intervene in order to be able to take more effective action against oil companies. This should also make it easier to siphon off profits when companies abuse their market power.
According to Habeck, profits can theoretically already be skimmed off under current antitrust law. But this is difficult to apply because it has to be proven that there is a cartel. In order to facilitate this proof – “ie this bequeathed market”, which functions like a cartel, the antitrust law must be reformed.
There have already been demergers in Germany, said Habeck. “Politics is not as defenseless as one sometimes thinks.”
Meanwhile, Lindner has defended the tank discount despite all doubts about its effectiveness. The fuel prices would be “significantly higher” without the tax rebate, said the FDP politician on Sunday evening on ARD and ZDF. In principle, Lindner also approved of Habeck’s initiative to tighten antitrust law. The FDP leader continues to strictly reject an excess profit tax to skim off extra profits from the mineral oil companies
“It’s good that Robert Habeck has now picked up this ball,” said Lindner in the ARD “Tagesthemen” on the subject of antitrust law. It is the task of the cartel office to check how exactly the fuel prices are composed.
FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr also defended the controversial tax cut for gas prices as the right measure and at the same time welcomed Habeck’s proposals for stricter antitrust law. Without the tank discount, the prices would be even higher, Dürr said on Monday in the ZDF morning magazine. The majority of citizens in Germany support the tank discount.