Energy crisis: Gas levy: These are the consequences of Uniper’s nationalization

Economics Minister Habeck has concerns, Finance Minister Lindner does not: the Uniper nationalization has these consequences for the gas surcharge.

It’s the biggest nationalization in the history of the Federal Republic: In order to prevent the energy company from collapsing, the federal government takes over the . Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said on Wednesday that Germany would soon own 99 percent of the shares Uniper hold, with a capital increase of eight billion euros and around 500 million euros, which Germany pays for the shares of the Finnish group Fortum.

Uniper got into trouble because, as the largest German gas importer had procured gas primarily in Russia. The company bought around half of its portfolio there. When Vladimir Putin stopped deliveries to Germany, Uniper had to buy more at short notice – at prices that have meanwhile risen rapidly. But because the customers – including more than 100 municipal utilities in Germany – pay contractually lower prices, Uniper was left with the additional costs and made heavy losses every day.

As early as July, the federal government had therefore given the group a rescue package helped and took a 30 percent stake in Uniper. Since then, however, the situation has “changed significantly, even worsened,” said Habeck, gas prices had risen even further. That is why nationalization became necessary.

The Ministry of Economy has constitutional concerns

Also the controversial one gas surcharge is designed to prop up struggling importers like Uniper. And although the company will soon be owned by the federal government, the federal government still wants to stick to the levy. The Ministry of Economics itself now has concerns as to whether this can be reconciled with the nationalization of the energy company in terms of financial constitutional law.

Waiting for the result of an exam from the Federal Ministry of Financewhether “there is a risk of unconstitutionality if the main beneficiaries of the surcharge should be in the hands of the state”. If the Ministry of Finance comes to the conclusion that there are constitutional hurdles, the levy will merely be a “bridge” to Uniper’s nationalization, Habeck said on Wednesday. The Green politician expects that it will take about three months.

The Federal Minister of Finance, however, considers the question settled: Christian Lindner (FDP) said on Wednesday in Berlin that the examination had been completed.

For consumers who heat with gas, this means as before: From October 1st, 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour will be added to the gas price. This amount of the contribution is initially valid for a quarter and can be adjusted later.

Gas allocation: Habeck wants to exclude “free riders”.

However, the Ministry of Economics wants to narrow down the group of companies that can benefit from the levy much more narrowly than originally planned: On Wednesday, Habeck’s house sent a proposal for an adjustment of the regulation to the other ministries, with the “free riders” – i.e. companies that are not dependent on the money – should be excluded. The corresponding Amendment of the Energy Security Act should be decided in the cabinet as early as next week.

But the pressure on the economics minister is increasing to immediately abolish the levy, which has been controversial from the start. Numerous voices were heard from the Union on Wednesday, demanding an immediate stop to the levy. That citizens and companies should pay a contribution for a De facto state company, is “neither legally tenable nor communicable,” said Gitta Connemann, Federal Chairwoman of the Union for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, this editorial office. It sounded similar to many of the CDU politician’s party friends.

The opposition and consumer advocates are calling for the end of the surcharge

And even in the coalition and in Habeck’s own party, doubts have long been growing as to whether the government should stick to the instrument. through the nationalization there is a new situation, said the parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast. “That’s why you have to ask yourself the question again: Does it make sense that we make a gas levy and one of the main beneficiaries is then a state-owned company?”

The Green Youth has already found its answer to this question: “It has been confirmed that it is the wrong instrument,” said Sarah-Lee Heinrich, federal spokeswoman for the Green Youth, about the gas levy. She sees the responsibility for making alternatives possible with Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

If the surcharge were to be dropped, the money for procuring a replacement for Russian gas would have to come from other sources – for example from the federal budget. Ramona Pop, board member of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations, advocates this. The nationalization of Uniper eliminates one of the most important reasons for the surcharge. The federal government should not burden consumers with any additional costs, said the consumer advocate. “The higher procurement costs for energy suppliers should instead be borne by taxpayers.”

Of the Association of Taxpayers quickly calls for clarity about the future of the surcharge. There are many open questions here, said President Reiner Holznage. “The Federal Government must not raise any questions about the decision to reduce VAT on gas,” he said. In any case, it must remain.

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