Thursday

21st Feb 2019

Germany proposes EU petrol tax to pay for refugees

  • The EU petrol tax was discussed at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels last week (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has proposed an EU-wide tax on petrol to cover the costs of the refugee crisis.

"If the funds in the national budgets and the European budget are not sufficient, then let us agree for instance on collecting a levy on every litre of petrol at a specific amount," he said in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper published on Saturday (16 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The German minister, a key ally of chancellor Angela Merkel, said the funds were necessary to strengthen the bloc’s external borders.

"We have to secure Schengen's external borders now. The solution of these problems must not fail because of a lack of funds,” he pointed out.

He did not give details on how the tax would be collected, or if Brussels would be in charge of the money.

However, he said that if any EU members objected to paying more into EU funds for refugee-related European policies, Germany should go ahead with a “coalition of the willing”.

“The problem must be solved at a European level,” he said, but added that things were moving too slowly in Europe.

“Otherwise, it won't just be Germany that suffers the consequences, as some seem to think, but our neighbours will be massively affected too, as will the Balkans, and all the way down to Greece,” Schaeuble warned.

Finland’s finance minister Alexander Stubb has already said he is open to the idea, but noted that it would be problematic for Finland to introduce it.

“For two reasons, basically: first, because no one wants to raise tax rates right now and second, because tax issues are largely the prerogative of individual nations at present. This would be a new kind of EU tax,” Stubb told the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yle.

Stubb added that the EU petrol tax was briefly discussed at the meeting of finance ministers in Brussels last week.

Meanwhile, Schaeuble’s idea drew criticism in Germany, which had a surprise budget surplus of €12.1 billion in 2015 and will use it to pay for integrating refugees.

“I’m strictly against any tax increase in light of the good budgetary situation,” Julia Kloeckner, the top Christian Democratic (CDU) candidate in the March state election in Rhineland-Palatinate, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We Social Democrats want to hold society together instead of dividing it with a new refugee toll a la Schaeuble,” SPD deputy Ralf Stegner told Reuters.

Bavarian threats

Over the weekend, Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer again threatened to take Merkel's government to court over its welcoming policy towards refugees.

Seehofer, whose state is the main entry point for the migrants, had made similar threats before, only to back down at the last minute.

He said on Saturday he would send the federal government a written request within two weeks to restore “orderly conditions” at the nation's borders.

Seehofer, who is leader of Merkel’s sister party the CSU, said if the federal government failed to do that, he would have to file a suit at the constitutional court.

More than 1 million migrants arrived in Germany last year.

Bavaria’s finance minister, Markus Soeder, told Der Spiegel that Merkel's open-door refugee policy had not been democratically legitimised and added that parliament should vote on the issue.

Merkel was also criticised by his junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).

SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel said on Saturday: “We have to get from a chaotic to an orderly immigration.”

He warned that if EU policies failed to bring down the numbers of new arrivals down by the spring, then "we're moving towards numbers that become difficult".

Syrians tell Cologne: 'We're against sexism'

Syrians and Germans held a protest on Saturday to show their aversion to sexism, but also to racism. “We experience sexism from men of all nationalities," one woman said.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  2. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  3. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  4. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  5. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  6. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  7. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  8. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us