Belgium wants to hit harder than Europe

She wanted to go beyond the measures decided by her European colleagues on Friday 30 September, and no doubt also to express her dissatisfaction with the Commission’s hesitation. Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten, a Flemish ecologist, presented a project to Alexander De Croo’s government to tax the super-profits from gas, electricity, oil and alternative energies. Objective of the text presented on Monday 3 October: to recover 4.7 billion euros for 2022 and 2023 to help households and businesses.

As social tensions mount in the country and calls for help from citizens and businesses mount, the government of Mr De Croo, prisoner of budgetary constraints, has taken some measures deemed insufficient given the explosion in gas and electricity tariffs. Unable to establish real tariff protection, he announced a cut in sales tax to 6%, the creation of a social tariff designed to benefit 1 million households and promised energy checks – some taxable for the wealthiest – for November and December.

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Incidentally, Belgian federal and regional officials gave the ball back to Europe and – along with 14 other member countries – called on the Commission to quickly propose a cap on wholesale gas prices and states to agree to a tax on energy companies’ super-profits. Mme Van der Straeten left the Twenty-Seven ministerial meeting in Brussels on Friday half-satisfied.

Cost of the measures: around 440 million euros

The member states have agreed on an authorization to generate special profits from the areas of nuclear power, renewable energies and lignite as soon as the price per megawatt hour (MWh) exceeds 180 euros. The Belgian minister wants to levy a levy from 130 euros, and not only from 1 Januaryah December to June 30, 2023, as foreseen in the agreement reached on Friday, but for the entire years of 2022 and 2023.

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Furthermore, how can Belgium be allowed to benefit from the “solidarity contribution” on the superprofits of the fossil fuels sector (gas, oil, coal), which the European Union has set at 33%, when almost all the players in its market are foreign ? The environmentalist proposes charging 1.5 cents per liter imported into the kingdom. Enough, according to estimates, to bring in about 600 million euros, which, together with all the revenue generated, will be used to lower the population’s bills.

The measures decided by the federal government so far are estimated at around 440 million euros. The amounts released would allow it to be both funded and extended over time. It remains to be seen whether the seven parties in the federal coalition will agree to them and how the big companies concerned will react. Including Engie Electrabel, which is currently negotiating against its will an extension of two nuclear reactors beyond 2025, which should in principle mean the end of nuclear power in Belgium.

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