Germany’s coalition government is divided over plans for a gas levy on consumers from October, following the impending nationalisation of utility giant Uniper.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck revealed there would have to be a review of the levy, which is aimed at helping utilities cover the cost of replacing Russian supply, following the state bailout of the country’s biggest gas importer.
He believed the deliberations over whether the levy is in accordance with German law could take about three months.
Habeck told reporters: “Obviously, the question of financial constitutional law has arisen, and it must of course be answered clearly. The gas levy is a bridge until this question is finally clarified.”
However, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has argued separately that the levy was finalised and there would be no further assessment of it, contradicting Habeck.
Lindner stated the levy had already been established last week that the government had no legal concerns about the additional tax.
He said: “There is no further review (of the gas levy). It is done. Last week Friday, the federal government decided that it has no legal concerns about the gas levy – even in the case of a nationalisation of Uniper.”Advertisement · Scroll to continue
Trading Hub Europe, the German gas market operator, has set the charge at 2.419 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), which will mean German households will have to pay almost 500 euros ($495) more per year for gas.
The levy is due to remain in place until April 2024.
The apparent disagreement between Habeck and Lindner comes amid opposition to the levy from some lawmakers within the ruling coalition.
Government adviser Jens Suedekum said after the nationalisation of Uniper that “the basis for the gas levy actually ceased to exist”.
“Although the high replacement costs for gas continue to be incurred, they can now also be met directly from the federal budget,” Suedekum added.
The German government has moved one step closer to fully nationalising Uniper this week, with the state set to buy of Fortnum’s 78 per cent stake and pump a further $8bn into the gas importer.