01 Sep 2021, 13:27
Julian Wettengel

German conservative politician calls EU carbon border tax plans “nonsense”

Clean Energy Wire / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Friedrich Merz, a prominent politician of the governing conservative CDU/CSU who stands a chance to become a minister in Germany's next government, has called the European Commission proposal for an EU carbon border tax “nonsense,” contradicting his own party's election manifesto. Should the EU put such plans into action, “it will not only be the end of free trade policy. It will be the beginning of a new world trade conflict in which there will only be losers,” said Merz at a conference organised by the CDU-affiliated Economic Council (Wirtschaftsrat der CDU e.V.). The next German government “must do everything to prevent this nonsense which the Commission plans, unfortunately led by a German president,” said Merz, with a side blow directed at Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The comments stand in contrast to the official election manifesto of Merz’s conservative camp. It states: “Together with our European partners, we want to introduce WTO-compliant border adjustment.” Should CDU/CSU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet become the country’s next chancellor, Merz has good chances for a ministerial post. At the same conference, Laschet promised that “the economic and finance policy face” of his party – Merz – would hold “an important position” in a future government, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The European Commission has proposed to introduce a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which will put a carbon price on imports of a targeted selection of products (e.g. cement, steel, aluminium, fertilisers) to ensure that ambitious climate action in Europe does not lead to ‘carbon leakage'. Member states and the European Parliament will now start deliberations on the proposal. Having entered the final four weeks, the German election race is wide open as the Social Democrats have caught up with the conservatives in the polls, with the Greens trailing slightly behind. This could mean difficult and long coalition negotiations after the vote on 26 September.

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