Germans back tax cuts to lower petrol prices

A overwhelming majority of Germans support slashing fuel taxes to help lower the cost of petrol at the pump amid record high oil prices, according to a poll published on Monday.

Germans back tax cuts to lower petrol prices
Photo: DPA

Germans currently pay about €1.52 per litre for gasoline ($8.93 per gallon) – but roughly €1.10 of that price comes from petroleum, ecology and value added taxes, according to the daily newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

The paper had pollster Forsa ask Germans if they’d be in favour of lower taxes to help stem rising petrol prices and a resounding 82 percent said yes. Even 52 percent of supporters of the environmentalist Green party backed tax cuts for petrol.

Many Germans said they planned to change their driving habits due to the growing financial burden from high gasoline prices. Some 51 percent of those asked said they wanted to drive less frequently and 34 percent supported implementing a speed limit on the Autobahn. Fuel economy is important to 74 percent of those in the market for a new car.

A spokesman for the German auto club ADAC told the paper that drivers with longer commutes were facing immense financial pressure from the high prices at the pump: “That means in many cases up to €1,000 more per year.”

But German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück rejected on Monday a French proposal to put a ceiling on value added taxes for motor fuels. He referred to a statement by euro-zone finance ministers in 2005 in the English city of Manchester in which they agreed that short-term measures, in particular fiscal ones, were not appropriate responses to rising oil prices.

“We should stick to the Manchester declaration and not react politically or try to intervene,” the German minister said ahead of a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers in Frankfurt.

On Friday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon urged European Union partners to debate a proposal to cap value added tax (VAT) on oil to help ease soaring fuel prices.

“This question will be discussed in the framework of the European Council” summit on 19-20 June, Fillon said in Tallinn, Estonia, where he was on a tour of EU capitals before France takes over as EU president for a six-month term on July 1.