Minimum taxes for diesel should rise to equal petrol tax minimums

The current EU-wide minimum rate of tax on diesel should be increased to match the current minimum rate for unleaded petrol, but no further, say MEPs. They also want to set a limit on further petrol and diesel tax increases in the Member States which already have the highest taxes.

The European Commission says the wide variation in rates of diesel (officially known as gas oil) taxes creates distortions in the road haulage market – and also increases environmental damage by encouraging “fuel tourism” by hauliers (i.e. making special journeys or using longer routes in order to fill up in a country with low taxes).  Also, since diesel and petrol have similar impacts, especially from the point of view of CO2 emissions, there is no environmental reason for the two minimum rates to differ. The Commission is therefore proposing to raise the minimum rate on diesel up to the minimum rate on petrol.

Adopting by 447 votes in favour to 64 against with 39 abstentions a report based on a draft by Olle Schmidt (ALDE, SE), MEPs agreed with this in principle, but said the minimum taxes on diesel should rise more slowly, from the current level of €302/1000 litres to the current petrol level of €359/1000 litres by 2015 rather than 2012.  Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania should have until 2016 to reach the target.   On the other hand, contrary to the Commission proposal, MEPs said Spain, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Greece did not need a transitional period.

Furthermore, the committee opposes the Commission’s plan to increase both minimum rates to €380/1000 litres in 2014.  In addition, still with a view to avoiding divergence between tax rates getting worse, MEPs say those countries with current tax rates over €400/1000 litres on diesel and €500/1000 litres on unleaded petrol should not increase their taxes further until 2015.