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In the event of Uniper nationalization: does Habeck question the gas surcharge? & More Breaking News

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Status: 09/19/2022 11:09 p.m

Is the introduction of the gas surcharge wobbly? The surcharge may not be legally compatible with the nationalization of Uniper.

By Matthias Deiß and Daniel Pokraka, ARD Capital Studio

Football Highlights

In view of the dramatic situation at Uniper, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck is apparently questioning the gas levy decided by the federal government. Habeck made this clear at an internal Green meeting last week, Green circles report ARD Capital Studio.

Matthias Deiss

Matthias Deiss
ARD Capital Studio

Daniel Pokraka

Daniel Pokraka
ARD Capital Studio

State aid instead of gas surcharge

According to Habeck, should the gas supplier be nationalized, this should ideally be accompanied by a replacement of the gas surcharge with comprehensive state aid.

It is an open secret that the economic situation of the gas supplier Uniper has once again deteriorated significantly as a result of the renewed closure of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Nationalization has been in the air for days. At the meeting, Habeck first made it clear that the financing requirements for the gas suppliers are significantly higher than when the first rescue package for Uniper was negotiated.

Nationalization and levy legally difficult?

The Federal Minister of Economics also justified his move away from the gas surcharge with “doubts regarding the financial constitution”. If the nationalization of Uniper and the gas levy were actually incompatible, that would have some charm for the green-led Ministry of Economic Affairs: The unpopular levy could be collected again before it came into force – on the grounds that there was no other legal way if Uniper was really want to save.

Gas customers would be grateful for the relief a few weeks before the state elections in Lower Saxony – and the tens of billions to save Uniper would not have to be raised by consumers, but by the Federal Minister of Finance from the FDP.

So really no gas surcharge? In the SPD there were already many critics of this instrument, who would probably not be angry if Uniper were nationalized. Whether the gas levy would then no longer be legally possible or no longer necessary would probably be of secondary importance.

In the opposition Union, Habeck would break down open doors with his idea anyway. The CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag has long thought that the levy should not come into force. She wants to vote on a corresponding application by name this week.

Union calls for alternatives

“As a key player in the German gas market, Uniper needs targeted help,” says Andreas Jung, energy policy spokesman for the Union faction. He accuses the government of talking to the ARD Capital Studio A lack of plan: “Announce participation, decide on gas levy, strive for nationalization: At the traffic light, things go haywire.” The federal government must now put alternatives to support Uniper on the table, with all the relevant information and figures.

However, the government does not do that. She refers to “concentrated ongoing” conversations for which there is not always time. The question remains as to whether it would be possible to nationalize Uniper while maintaining the gas surcharge. The Federal Ministry of Finance shows no concerns. When asked, the ministry does not want to comment and refers to the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Economics.

“Doubts based on expert opinion”

From government circles, it is said that Habeck has concerns about that ARD Capital Studio: “The doubts were based on a report by a law firm commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK). However, the Chancellery, Minister of Justice and Ministry of Finance have confirmed the previous path.”

But even Habeck’s house, which questioned the levy internally last week, is officially tight-lipped and does not want to comment on Habeck’s initiative. At today’s federal press conference, a spokeswoman replied to the question of whether nationalization of Uniper and receiving payments from the gas surcharge were possible at the same time: “I’m not speculating about that.”

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