The tax on the excess profits of companies in the energy sector has just been approved by the House Energy Committee. It should bring in several billion euros.
The House Energy Committee on Tuesday approved two texts of Minister Tinne Van der Straeten, whose aim is to “skimme” the superprofits made by companies in this sector, in particular the tax on excess profits of electricity producers which received unanimous support, minus the abstention of the N-VA. The revenue from this will be used to finance the support measures decided to deal with soaring energy bills.
Several billion euros recovered
A first text contains a solidarity contribution imposed on Fluxys, the manager of the gas transmission network which has garnered exceptional income with the European obligation to fill natural gas storage facilities. A gain of 300 million euros is expected. The tax on the surplus profits of electricity producers – mainly Engie, operator of the Belgian nuclear fleet – sparked the most debate. Its approval by the government follows a long-negotiated European settlement by a few days. An estimated return of 3.5 billion euros is planned for 2022 and 2023 and will apply more precisely to the period between August 1, 22 – when a price spike was seen in the markets because germany was supplied in large quantities on the markets – and on June 30, 2023.
Legally sound enough?
“We had to reintroduce fiscal and social justice, and the minister didn’t delay. Superprofits are war profits produced through war on the backs of consumers. On the one hand, there are households and businesses that are suffering, and on the other, gigantic excess profits and dividends that have sometimes doubled,” underlined Samuel Cogolati (Ecolo-Groen).
Questions were asked about the legal solidity of the Belgian system which is based on 100% taxation of profits made from 130 euros per MWh, whereas Europe had taken 180 euros as the minimum base and the nuclear sector is also subject to a specific distribution contribution. The Council of State made several observations. “The text as it stands seems to me very weak from a legal point of view”, warned Marie-Christine Marghem (MR).
“Too weak”, judges the PTB
On the contrary, the PTB singled out a bill which it considered too weak. According to its calculations, which carry until 2025, that is to say the three-year duration of the contracts concluded by Engie, the French group would keep 7 billion euros of its surplus profits. “Don’t come and say that there is no money to lower the price of gas and electricity. It is a political choice to leave these profits to Engie shareholders,” said Thierry Warmoes. A third text still needs to be approved. It imposes a contribution to the oil sector for the years 2022 and 2023. Around 600 million euros should go into the state coffers.