Superprofits: Berlin draws, Bercy demines

Superprofits: Berlin draws, Bercy demines

No truce in the debate on “superprofits”: a few hours after Germany promised to support European efforts to impose a mandatory contribution from energy companies, Paris hammered home on Sunday that it was “absolutely not” a question of ‘a tax.

A few days before a meeting of the 27 Member States around energy issues, there is no question of lending the flank to the left, which has been proposing for months an exceptional taxation of the profits made by large groups like TotalEnergies or CMA CGM.

“The German government has absolutely not announced a tax on the superprofits of energy companies,” insisted Bercy in a message sent to journalists a few hours after Berlin’s announcement of its support for a mandatory contribution from energy companies, to be refined in the future. European level.

This contribution targets “companies that benefit from the price of gas while they produce electricity from coal, nuclear or renewable energies”, we say in Paris.

“This is exactly what France is doing (…) The mechanisms are not necessarily the same, but the logic is (…) and it has nothing to do with taxation”, tried to demine the Ministry.

A reaction came a few hours after the presentation by Germany of a plan of 65 billion euros intended to mitigate the effects of inflation.

The rise in prices in Germany reached 7.9% year on year in August, fueled by energy prices which have soared since Russia, an essential supplier for Berlin, reduced gas flows to Germany. ‘Europe.

In this context, the German government announced on Sunday morning that it would plead for the introduction, at European level, of a compulsory contribution to be paid by companies in the energy sector.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner at a press conference in Berlin on July 27, 2022 (AFP/Archives – Christian Spicker)

The measure is “not tax law”, hammered the Minister of Finance, the liberal Christian Lindner.

In mid-July, Spain had already announced a tax on the extraordinary profits of large energy and financial companies.

Previously, Italy and the United Kingdom had introduced a tax on the profits of oil and gas giants.

– “Artificial increases” –

European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton on August 30, 2022, in Prague (AFP/Archives - Michal Cizek)
European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton on August 30, 2022, in Prague (AFP/Archives – Michal Cizek)

Invited at the end of the afternoon on LCI, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, showed himself in favor of “the use of exceptional resources, and in particular pensions” to “limit the impact of inflation both on individuals than on companies”.

But he insisted on the importance of limiting the scope of this contribution to “artificial increases that certain energy players have been able to achieve”.

“In France, I have the impression that we have extended (the idea of ​​taxing “superprofits”) to the entire economic sector, it seems to me a bit risky or even risky”, argued the commissioner.

If the European discussions do not succeed, Berlin says it is ready to go it alone by adopting a measure at the national level.

In France, the idea of ​​taxing the superprofits of multinationals is firmly opposed by the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire, while Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne does not “close the door” as a last resort.

Before Bercy communicated, MEP Manon Aubry (La France insoumise) rejoiced on Twitter that it was “Germany’s turn to tax superprofits”.

“Still wrong!” Retorted Bruno Le Maire on the social network. “Germany has decided to set up a compulsory contribution from energy companies, which already exists in France and which brings in several billion euros”.

Bercy must present its draft budget for 2023 in the coming days, which will detail the government’s strategy to fight against inflation, in particular energy.

While the tariff shield on gas prices is supposed to expire on December 31, 2022, the Minister of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal assured France Inter on Saturday that a “shield system” would be maintained in 2023.

However, the percentage increase in energy prices remains to be defined. Gabriel Attal said in an interview with Le Parisien on Saturday that an increase of 10 to 20% was a “possibility”.


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