Energy: Habeck wants to improve the gas levy

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) wants to improve the controversial gas levy.

Energy: Habeck wants to improve the gas levy

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) wants to improve the controversial gas levy. You have to "push the free riders off the footboard," said Habeck on "Deutschlandfunk".

In his view, there are a few things that can be done to prevent profitable companies from receiving the levy. The gas levy is not a mistake, but a necessary means of distributing the high prices "as fairly" as possible across Germany.

Among other things, only companies that are relevant to the gas supply in Germany should be supported. In addition, their gas business must have a relevant size in operation. According to Habeck, anyone who wants to benefit from the levy must disclose their books. That alone could be enough "to weed out these companies."

The levy is important for security of supply in Germany, said Habeck after the cabinet meeting at Meseberg Castle. "It's still not good news." Excluding companies that are making profits is not that easy - "if you go deeper, there are an enormous number of questions" and, in case of doubt, the regulations would also have to withstand lawsuits.

For example, one would then have to deal with networks of mother and subsidiary companies, explained Habeck. Among other things, the depth of insight into the books of the companies would have to be clarified. The criteria he proposed instead would have the desired effect, but would be legally secure. "I think that with these measures we will prevent companies that make profits from making further claims on the levy."

Hubert Aiwanger: Stamp out the gas levy quickly

Habeck's Bavarian colleague Hubert Aiwanger feared that this would not be enough. "The gas surcharge must be stamped out as quickly as possible," said the Free Voters chairman of the "Augsburger Allgemeine". It is difficult to distinguish between legitimate recipients and free-rider effects. If importers are in trouble, the state would have to buy gas itself if necessary.

The municipal utilities also demanded a correction. It must also be possible to collect it from customers in the case of fixed-price contracts and district heating. Municipal utilities would have to pay in advance and bear the costs.

The controversial surcharge is intended to compensate for the sharp rise in costs for large importers due to the shortage of Russian gas supplies. The aim is to prevent bankruptcies and a collapse of the energy system. All gas customers should pay an additional 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour from October.

Legally complicated

The federal government is now examining corrections because of the criticism, which is legally complicated. Among other things, SPD leader Lars Klingbeil had accused Habeck of technical errors. It is important to correct mistakes quickly, he said on Monday evening in the ZDF "heute-journal". "That's what Robert Habeck is doing now," he added. "It cannot be conveyed to people that companies that make billions in profits now get billions in tax money on top of that."

Meanwhile, opposition leader Friedrich Merz called for Habeck's ministry to be curtailed. "Energy policy belongs in an energy security council of the Federal Chancellery. It is properly coordinated there, including with the other departments," said the CDU party and Union faction leader in the ARD morning magazine.

The traffic light ministers met on Tuesday in Meseberg, Brandenburg, where they also wanted to talk about the consequences of the Ukraine war for energy security in Germany.

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