Berlin’s finance senator, Daniel Wesener, has spoken out in favor of “skimming off” war-related excess profits from energy companies. The Greens politician told the German Press Agency that he supports corresponding proposals, without explicitly mentioning Bremen’s recent initiative to introduce a special tax for mineral oil companies.
The Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) had previously shown sympathy for him. With the left-wing faction in the House of Representatives, part of the governing coalition even called for Berlin to join the Bremen initiative in the Bundesrat.
“I am committed to a fair distribution of the financial burdens that consumers and the public sector incur as a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine,” said Wesener. “Especially in trading in fossil fuels, many companies are currently making unproductive excess profits that are not offset by any investments or higher risks.”
According to Wesener, Italy shows how some of these gigantic profits can be siphoned off. “It is important that the corresponding income not only benefits the federal government, but also the states. Because they bear a large part of the burden in the crisis.” For Berlin, for example, the costs of accommodating and integrating refugees from Ukraine this year and next are expected to be almost 500 million euros.
The leaders of the Left Party in the House of Representatives, Anne Helm and Carsten Schatz, welcomed the statements made by Green coalition partner Wesener on Friday. But now action must follow and Berlin must participate in Bremen’s initiative, they demanded. “Berlin should take action now,” said Helm and Schatz. “The question of who pays for the consequences of the crisis and the war is a fundamental question of social justice.”
[More from Berlin and everything that moves Germany and the world: With our app you can now set your news even more precisely. Download here now for Apple and Android devices.]
Soaring energy or food prices hit the poor hardest. Many people could no longer pay their bills. “On the other hand, speculation in oil and gas is fueling price spirals and increasing the profits of some companies. Crisis beneficiaries must therefore finally be shared appropriately in the costs of overcoming the crisis.”
Bremen has announced that it will submit an application to the Bundesrat on June 10 with the aim of imposing a temporary special tax on some mineral companies’ surplus profits caused by the war. The city-state left it open how the legal and technical design of a special tax should look in detail. The application is intended to ask the federal government to develop a proposal for a legal basis for levying a special levy.
After a meeting in Berlin on Thursday, the heads of government of the federal states also made it clear that they consider stronger government action against energy companies to be necessary. The countries had agreed to “ask the federal government to take regulatory measures to prevent further speculation in oil, gas and electricity,” said Giffey, who is Vice-Chairman of the Prime Ministers’ Conference, after the deliberations. In addition, corresponding price increases of the past few weeks and months would have to be checked under antitrust law.
[Keep an overview: Every morning from 6 a.m., editor-in-chief Lorenz Maroldt and his team report on Berlin’s most important news and biggest excitement in the Tagesspiegel newsletter Checkpoint. Free and compact: checkpoint.tagesspiegel.de]
The Governing Mayor herself considers taxing these extra profits to be conceivable. “If there are excessive profits, which are also there, I find the idea of examining a profit limitation clause interesting,” said Giffey. “And also the question of to what extent (…) you can also tax profits in a certain way.”