BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – Due to the persistently high fuel prices, the Federal Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck, wants to present proposals for tightening the antitrust regulations “as soon as possible”. “We apply antitrust law with claws and teeth,” Habeck said on Monday. He cannot and does not intend to take the idea of a surplus taxation off the table as he believes it is right, the Green politician told Deutschlandfunk. However, given the resistance from the FDP, Habeck said taxing excess profits did not appear to be able to win a majority in the traffic light coalition. So now the antitrust law will apply.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner believes the “tank rebate” is right despite all the doubts. Fuel prices would be “much higher” without the tax break, an FDP politician at ARD and ZDF said on Sunday evening. Regarding Habeck’s insistence on tightening the antitrust law, Lindner said “the direction is right.”
On June 1, the energy tax on gasoline and diesel was lowered to ease the burden on drivers. But it was barely noticeable with the fuel pumps. On Sunday, a liter of Super E10 cost a nationwide average of 1.952 euros and a diesel 2.033 euros, the ADAC reported. On Friday, according to the ADAC, the Super was € 1,945 and the Diesel € 2,016. The price of fuel has clearly decoupleded from the price of crude oil: “The tax cuts mostly end up with mineral oil companies, not enough for motorists,” an ADAC spokesman said. The Super E10 is 20 cents cheaper than May 31, the day before the tax cut. However, the price of diesel fuel is at May 11th and only one cent below May 31st level.
Lindner defended himself in the ZDF program “Berlin direct” and in the ARD “Tagesthemen” against the impression that the discount on the tank was insufficient. He pointed to higher world prices, the strong dollar and shortages in refineries as price drivers. “I have the impression that the debate is a bit emotionally charged,” he told ZDF.
SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil told Rheinische Post (Monday): “The fuel cut applies to commuters, not international oil companies.” Green Party leader Ricarda Lang admitted in ARD’s “Berlin Report” that the discount does not actually take the burden off people, but the oil companies. Even so, her party sticks to the tax cut. “We are making the compromises that we have agreed together in the traffic light coalition.” But one thing is clear: “We are not interested in seeing oil companies make big profits.” The debate on other instruments, such as the surplus tax, is not over yet.
According to Habeck’s plans, the Cartel Office should have more options to intervene in order to be able to take more restrictive action against oil companies. In addition to more powerful sector investigations, competition regulators should also be able to suck up profits when companies abuse their market power. As a last resort, splits should be possible in the case of dominant positions.
According to Habeck, the profits can theoretically be reduced in accordance with the applicable antitrust law. But it is difficult to apply because there is a need to prove that there is a cartel. To make this proof easier – “I mean this inherited market” that functions like a cartel, antitrust law must be reformed. There have already been divisions in Germany, said Habeck. “Politics is not as vulnerable as it sometimes seems.”
FDP faction leader Christian Drr told the German editorial network (Monday): “Proposals that are in line with the constitution and do not harm Germany as an investment location are welcome.” In the morning magazine ZDF Drr said, first of all, that they are away from the debate about the excess tax that will affect completely different, innovative companies and harm Germany as a business location. Antitrust law is the right instrument, said Dr. “And I’m sure we’ll find a solution.”
The Union was skeptical about Habeck’s approach. Group vice president Thorsten Frei emphasized in the Rheinische Post (Monday) that tank discounts should not be used to maximize profits. However, the Cartel Office already has the power to intervene. The president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, called Habeck’s proposal an “important initiative”. The problem with mineral companies is not that they make a profit on their own, but are “abusing their market position at the expense of consumers,” said “Augsburger Allgemeine.” / Shy / rol / sl / DP / us