European Commission moves to make it easier to tax polluters



Environmental tax matters across the EU should be decided by a majority vote, the bloc’s energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said this week.

The proposal followed the publication of the latest report by the European Commission on the state of the energy union, which monitors progress made on the transition towards clean energy.

Taxation is one of the few EU policy areas that requires agreement by all 28 national governments before being approved. This means that currently any tax proposal by the Commission can be blocked if one country disagrees.

This was the case with energy tax proposals dating back to 2011, and more recently with an aviation tax championed by the Netherlands.

The Commission is now proposing a shift from unanimity to qualified majority voting.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Cañete argued that in today’s modern and integrated EU, a purely national approach to taxation no longer works and unanimity is neither a practical nor an effective way of decision-making.

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