Minister of Finance Christian Lindner could have guessed: his attempt at the EU Commission to obtain an exception to the levying of the gas surcharge was doomed to failure. A complete abolition of VAT cannot be done with the Brussels authority because it is not provided for in the current EU law for gas.

In his letter to the responsible EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, Lindner had asked for all EU countries to be given the opportunity to waive VAT in the energy sector in view of the emergency that many German citizens could face in view of the burdens in winter.

Nevertheless, this would have seemed like the fulfillment of a special German request – because gas suppliers like Uniper have gotten into trouble, especially in Germany, since Russian President Vladimir Putin throttled deliveries.

In addition, it is only logical that the Brussels authorities do not immediately throw the newly revised VAT Directive overboard just because Berlin is pushing for an exception. The situation here is similar to the EU stability pact, which actually provides the same rules for all member states when it comes to debt. Years ago, the then EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker granted the French government an exception “because it is France”. Such a practice is rightly viewed critically in the Ministry of Finance today.

On the other hand, the possible socio-political upheavals that the gas shortage in this country could bring with it weigh heavily. The EU Commission knows that too. So it’s good that the authorities in Brussels want to be open to discussion, as long as it’s no longer a matter of completely eliminating VAT. Perhaps it is conceivable to consider a reduced tax rate for gas. And Lindner can claim to have tried everything in the struggle for VAT in Brussels.