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"Unnecessary billion dollar gift" - Union wants to stop gas levy in the Bundestag

The Union continues to put pressure on the federal government with the planned gas levy.

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"Unnecessary billion dollar gift" - Union wants to stop gas levy in the Bundestag

The Union continues to put pressure on the federal government with the planned gas levy. The chairman of the climate union, Thomas Heilmann, brought up a motion in the Bundestag that could prevent the surcharge before it was introduced on October 1st.

He considers the levy to be unconstitutional, said Heilmann, who is also a member of the Bundestag Committee on Climate Protection and Energy for the Union. The gas surcharge is an “unnecessary billion dollar gift” to gas importers, it is calculated incorrectly, is therefore too expensive and has an antisocial effect in several ways. Furthermore, it is highly likely that it also violates European law. "The levy will lead to a wave of lawsuits," said Heilmann.

The emergence of the gas surcharge "looks like backroom agreements with the gas importers," said the Union politician. "I am firmly convinced that we still have to stop this wrong path." From his point of view it would be better to support gas companies that are in financial distress with state equity participation based on the Lufthansa rescue model. The federal government would thus become a co-owner of the energy companies.

"Gas trading will also be a profitable business again, it's just not profitable at the moment," said Heilmann. He predicted that after the crisis, companies' sales might even be higher than before the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine because prices will remain higher indefinitely.

Then the shares in the gas companies could be sold again at a profit. "Why we are now socializing the losses is a complete mystery to me," said the deputy.

So far, Heilmann has not spoken for the entire Union faction, in which there has not yet been a decision on how to deal with the gas levy due to the summer break. Group and party leader Friedrich Merz knows his attitude and he has the impression that Merz sees things similarly, said Heilmann. The economic policy spokesman for the Union, Jens Spahn, had already expressed similar criticism of the planned levy.

The levy is "regulatory nonsense and socio-political nonsense" and full of technical errors, said Heilmann. "The gas surcharge also subsidizes those businesses that are highly profitable." In fact, twelve companies have so far registered to compensate for the additional costs of procuring replacement gas, including subsidiaries of corporations that continue to make high profits.

So far, only RWE has announced that it intends to forego the funds from the levy for the time being. Heilmann criticized the fact that not only companies at risk of insolvency benefit from the levy, a spokeswoman for Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had confirmed that the risk of insolvency is not a criterion for a claim from the gas levy.

In fact, law firms are already preparing for possible lawsuits against the gas surcharge. The law firm Raue in Berlin has submitted a three-page report that is available to WELT. Accordingly, the surcharge is very likely not only unconstitutional, but also represents unauthorized aid and thus violates European law.

On its website, the law firm calls on companies affected by the gas levy to get in touch. Heilmann also said he knew several companies that wanted to sue the levy.

The Union politician suggested that his parliamentary group could submit a motion in the first Bundestag session after the summer break to withdraw the gas levy. That would put the critical voices from the traffic light coalition under pressure, among other things, SPD Secretary General Kevin Kühnert had publicly expressed doubts about the gas levy. "We will vote by name and ask how Mr. Kühnert sees it," announced Heilmann.

Economics Minister Habeck and the rest of the federal government are sticking to the gas surcharge of a good 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour from October 1st, despite the critical voices. Habeck said the only alternative to the gas levy would have been a collapse of large parts of the energy industry. "It is undisputed that this is a painful operation, with unreasonable demands," said the minister.

A government spokesman said "alternatives that are available are all significantly worse". At the same time, he called on all gas suppliers who were not in existential need to forego the income from the levy. You can't force them to do it, but it would be "a fine move" if they didn't.

The spokesman ruled out fundamental changes. "The federal government stands by the gas levy and the design of the gas levy," he said. When asked about the possible threat of lawsuits from affected companies, the government spokesman said: “The federal government is convinced of the legality of the gas levy and is relaxed about everything.” In principle, of course, legal recourse is open to everyone in the constitutional state.

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