German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has questioned if efforts to help the country’s energy companies tackle soaring energy costs would lead to lower energy prices for local consumers.
Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Lindner, the head of the country’s liberal Free Democratic Party, said the so-called gas levy, the plan to charge Germans a fee to compensate energy companies for skyrocketing wholesale energy costs because of the war in Ukraine, may not be the best way to handle the global energy crisis.
“We have a gas levy that increases the price,” Lindner said in an interview published on Sunday. “But we need a gas price brake that lowers the price.”
The gas levy, which is due to come into force on October 1, became a political hot potato between members of Germany’s coalition government as soon as it was first proposed by Robert Habeck, the country’s energy minister and member of the Green party.
Despite rising cost-of-living concerns for average German voters, the levy was designed to help profit-making energy companies, some of which have recorded blockbuster income amid rising global prices for natural gas. Estimates suggest an average German four-person household will pay €480 more a year to cover the planned levy.
Lindner raised concerns about whether such a surcharge would have the designed effect of helping to support those energy companies, often smaller outfits, that were struggling to pay rapidly increasing wholesale energy prices.
“It’s less a question of law when it comes to the gas levy, but more and more of a question of economic reasoning,” Lindner said. “A gas price brake must help everyone in the economy quickly.”