POST TIME: 1 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Eco-tax championed, contested and still marginal in EU
AFP, Paris

Eco-tax championed, contested and still marginal in EU

Taxes on products considered polluting are struggling to gain ground in the European Union despite backing from Brussels, in the face of strong opposition from movements like France’s “Yellow Vests”.

In 2011 the European Commission envisaged that by “2020 a major shift from taxation of labour towards environmental taxation... will lead to a substantial increase in the share of environmental taxes in public revenues”.

So far this has not come to pass. Since then the share of environmental tax revenues in the EU, which stood at 6.18 percent, has fallen almost every year.

Nonetheless, eco-taxes in 2017 generated around 369 billion euros (some $303 billion). Latvia leads the bloc in implementing eco-taxes, making up some 11.11 percent of its fiscal revenue in 2017, according to data from EU statistics authority Eurostat.

Slovenia and Greece also top the list, generating respectively 10.13 percent and 9.5 percent of their revenue from eco-taxes, well above the EU country average of 5.97 percent.

By contrast, Luxembourg brings in the least revenue from eco-taxes with 4.25 percent, while Germany (4.46 percent), Belgium (4.74 percent), France (4.77 percent) and Sweden (4.8 percent) do not fare much better.

Eco-taxes in Germany are based on reforms passed in 1999-2000. Germans now pay a tax on electricity of 6.41 cents per kilowatt hour that directly finances renewable energy infrastructure.

In Hungary, meanwhile, an eco-tax is automatically charged through VAT on products that generate waste such as plastic bags, batteries, leaflets and packaging.

Bulgaria also charges eco-taxes on vehicle registration, ranging from 64 euros to 158 euros depending on the age of the car. This does not apply to electric cars.