Dáil Éireann - Volume 478 - 01 May, 1997

Written Answers. - Taxation of Energy Products.

24. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Finance if he will give details of the European Commission's proposals for a wider minimum taxation rate system for energy products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10892/97]

Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The EU Commission made a brief presentation on new proposals for the taxation of energy products to ECOFIN on 17 March 1997. This followed the failure of the EU members to reach agreement on earlier proposals for a carbon energy tax. In summary, the Commission proposals involve increases in minimum rates for existing mineral oil excises and extending the scope of new excise. to include taxes on coal, turf, natural gas and electricity which are not currently subject to excise. Revised rates would apply from 1998, 2000 and 2002 if the proposals were accepted. I have arranged to have a copy of the proposals placed in the Dáil Library.

The proposals are complex and have to be examined in detail, but very substantial issues arise. They will need to be considered at EU working group level in relation to the certain technical aspects, and in particular questions arise as to how excises are intended to apply to the new product categories. Further questions about the effect on inflation and on industrial competitiveness will also need to be considered. I have already had representations from industry on this aspect of the proposal. The Government will also need to consider whether environmental benefits may accrue from the proposal.

These issues will be considered again at future meetings of ECOFIN. However, I should point out that any decisions to implement proposals in this area can only be taken by a unanimous vote in the Council. It is already clear that a number of member states are unable to support the proposals as presented.