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BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – In a dispute over a discount on tanks, Economy Minister Robert Habeck is now threatening oil companies with hard shares: a Green politician wants to tighten antitrust law and, if necessary, also allow companies to break up. Moreover, it should be easier to divert illegal profits. It is in fact a document outlining the position of the Federal Ministry of Economy, which was first reported by “Spiegel” on Sunday. Until now, this approach has met with major obstacles. “A law that cannot be exercised is not in the interest of the inventor,” Habeck told “Spiegel.”
Earlier in the opposition, but also in the traffic light coalition itself, dissatisfaction with the limited brake effect on fuel prices grew. After falling prices due to tax cuts on Wednesday last week, fuel prices have increased significantly again. Leading politicians from the FDP, CDU, SPD and the Left Party called on Habeck to take action against oil companies. Objection: The companies put at least part of the tax break into their own pockets. The industry itself once again referred to rising purchasing costs. This eats up the tax break.
Even federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier intervened: “I understand the discontent of citizens when many have to cut back and make extra profits,” Steinmeier told Bild am Sonntag. “We have to take anger seriously. Just as important as telling citizens that the state will not be able to compensate for every price increase, it is also important to ensure that there are no unreasonable benefits to the situation it may pull. “However, the government has to answer the question of which instrument is appropriate.
In the opinion of Habeck, also companies dealing with mineral oils did not provide a sufficient reduction in the energy tax at the pump. The first Bundeskartellamt’s data on the tank discount shows that the gap between oil prices and prices at gas stations has increased sharply since the beginning of the month. “Of course, what many experts have warned about has happened: mineral oil companies are making a profit, and consumers are not seeing the tax cut,” said Habeck.
The Ministry of Economy now wants to postpone the amendment to the non-competition act this year. Concrete proposals will be presented in the coming weeks. The primary goal is to tighten up the cartel office’s weapons. However, it was also emphasized: “Such tightening of competition law may not have a short-term effect in the current situation, but may give the state the necessary strength to intervene better in the future.”
Generally, companies know the prices of competitors at gas stations, because the market is very transparent. “This means that even without an antitrust agreement, prices adjust to each other very quickly; abuse of competition law is difficult to prove ”. Therefore, in future it should also be possible to “unbundle from abuses” “to create competition in established markets”.
The chairman of the FDP parliamentary faction, Christian Dürr, demanded on Saturday’s Bildie: “Minister Habeck must now exert pressure and, together with the Federal Antimonopoly Office, ensure that the aid works.” Ensure that the mineral oil industry does not fully pass on the discount on the tanks. The vice-president of the Union faction, Jens Spahn (CDU) also called on the economy minister to act: “The value of the billion-billion discount on tanks is running out and the lights are on. the least that Minister of Economy Habeck can do. “
At the same time, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) warned of “hasty sentences”. The task of the Cartel Office is to check that corporations are not using their market power, he told the news portal. t-online. Several factors influenced the price at the pump – for example, the development on the world markets, but also the availability of refining capacity. “We just don’t know what the price of fuel would be if the energy tax was collected in full. Taller, anyway, ”emphasized Lindner.
The ADAC believes that the strengthening of the role of the Federal Antimonopoly Office is right. “If consistent analyzes come to the conclusion that prices in the energy sector are highly overstated, and competition is not working sufficiently due to the market structure, it must also have consequences,” said a spokeswoman for dpa. Everything else is confusing to consumers and leads to frustration and loss of confidence. Politicians must examine in detail whether the strengthening of the authority of the Federal Antimonopoly Office over the oil industry can be designed with legal certainty.
SPD leader Esken stressed that the fuel tax break will cost taxpayers around three billion euros. “The fact that mineral oil companies are not now fully passing on this price cut to consumers is stinking.” The cartel office must intervene. Esken also believes that a temporary speed limit and Sunday driving bans are conceivable. In Berlin’s Tagesspiegel she referred to the act on energy security. It allows the government to commission such temporary measures.
Left-wing leader Dietmar Bartsch has rejected a driving ban. “Robert Habeck should call the oil companies to the oil peak and control prices tightly from now on,” he told the German editorial network (RND). Instead of a driving ban that hits citizens, maximum state prices at service stations are sometimes needed. “Competition can take place underneath, to the benefit of consumers and at the expense of the oil company’s profits.”
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing emphasized in an interview with Deutschlandfunk that the Federal Antimonopoly Office has a duty to investigate any profit taking. The FDP politician ruled out changes in the discount on tanks, and even abolition. The legislative process of reducing the energy tax on fuels was carried out. Therefore, the recipe cannot be changed in a short time.
The TIV gas station interest group has accused the oil companies of overstating their own profits. The tax break decided by the federal government has been largely neutralized in advance through higher prices. The mineral oil industry association MWV rejected it again. Managing Director Christian Küchen referred to the higher purchase costs at Deutschlandfunk./hgo/DP/mis
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