Parliament opposes phase-out of diesel tax advantage
By Marie-Martine Buckens | Thursday 19 April 2012
A majority of MEPs have rejected the European Commission’s proposal to reform the energy taxation system during the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, on 19 April. Parliament was particularly opposed to measures that would progressively align the taxation systems applicable to diesel and to petrol.
The non-binding position, adopted on the basis of a report by Astrid Lulling (EPP, Luxembourg), received majority support from the right, as well as among certain Socialists and Social Democrats. This position represents an important political signal from member states, who were called on to give a unanimous position on the Commission’s proposal.
Under the Commission’s proposal, energy taxes would be in two parts: the first specifically linked to CO
2 emissions and the second based on the energy content of products. However, this measure would not come into force until 2003, and most MEPs are not opposed to it.
“Could we, as the Commission hoped to do, use the tax system to help attain the objectives of fighting climate change? Perhaps. In this respect, I support the new methodology introduced,” said Lulling at the conclusion of the vote. However, the MEP rejected the principle of ‘proportionality’ between the different minimum thresholds applicable to each energy, which the European Commission wants to introduce. This principle, she added, “risks having concrete consequences for consumers: diesel prices 9% higher than those of petrol, in all member states. In Germany and in France, this rise would be higher than 22 eurocents per litre. How could our citizens understand this?”
She added: “Consequences for the sector of transportation of persons and goods, entirely dependent on diesel, and for the European car industry, which is a world leader in this technology, could be catastrophic as well”.
Parliament has therefore deleted the article in the proposal that would introduce the progressive alignment of the minimum level of taxation applicable to diesel with that of petrol.
Commenting on the vote, Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said he was satisfied with Parliament’s support for the new taxation system, while on the other hand he regretted its refusal to align the taxation of motor fuels.
“The impact on the price of diesel has been exaggerated,” said the commissioner, adding that a majority of member states tax diesel at signifcantly higher rates than the minimum thresholds given in the proposal.