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14 Jun 2022, 12:07
Julian Wettengel

Fuel tax cut “mess” a “low point in German politics” – media commentaries

Tagesspiegel Background / FAZ / Clean Energy Wire

German newspapers call the government’s decision to cut energy taxes on fuels for three months to soften the impact of rising prices a “debacle” and “mess”. The commentaries follow economy minister Robert Habeck’s statement that he aimed to tighten the country’s antitrust law amid concerns that oil companies do not pass on a tax cut on fuels to consumers. The ifo Institute today published calculations according to which oil companies passed on 85 percent (petrol) to 100 percent (diesel) of the discount.

Whether every cent of the discount is passed on in Germany can rightly be doubted, but for the most part the fuel rebate reaches consumers, writes Jakob Schlandt in Tagesspiegel Background. Still, lowering the tax was short-sighted and wrong from the start, as the incentive to save fuel decreases, the carbon footprint increases, and it has been proven that wealthy households benefit disproportionately, Schlandt writes. “When short-sighted patronage politics and anti-market populism complement each other, the result is a low point in German politics.”

The discount is a “billion-euro gift to car drivers pushed through by the FDP against all ecological sense,” Helmut Bünder writes in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Minister Habeck’s proposal to tighten antitrust law was first and foremost a threat. “It is rather doubtful that the mineral oil companies will be impressed in the short term,” he writes.

The fuel discount has been contentious from the start, and many researchers and NGOs have voiced their opposition for various reasons. It would encourage greater use of fossil fuels, is targeted at mid to high-income consumers and enables oil companies to make windfall profits.

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