The Polish prime minister has said a temporary suspension of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) would be a better way to lower electricity costs than a levy on power producers.
According to an interview cited by the Financial Times on Thursday, Mateusz Morawiecki said the temporary suspension of the ETS would be “a response to Putin, showing him that we can react very quickly.”
His opinion contrasts with that of the European Commission which has proposed imposing a tax on the extraordinary profits being posted by energy companies.
The tax, said Morawiecki, would take much longer to bring down soaring electricity prices because it would “require redistribution thereafter.”
“We do not exclude some taxation on those who have extraordinary profits but there are other instruments which should be triggered as well, even ahead,” Morawiecki added.
He suggested suspending the ETS for one or two years or significantly lowering the prices of carbon dioxide emission permits.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed to introduce a “solidarity contribution” collected from the profits of energy companies that would be used to support households in a difficult situation.
Responding to this proposal, Morawiecki warned against giving Brussels a larger role in determining tax policy, which, he said, should remain in the hands of EU member states, even if the energy crisis triggered by Russian supply cuts in response to Western support for Ukraine requires an extraordinary response.
“I believe they are already usurping extra competencies which are not in the [EU] treaties, and this is why we are very sceptical about giving an inch of additional competencies to the EU institutions,” the Polish prime minister said.
While the EU’s energy markets should be more interconnected, Morawiecki said that the response to the energy crisis cannot ignore important differences between member states, such as the fact that some rely more on nuclear or renewable energy.
“Pretending that it is very easy to have one energy policy is very wrong: one size does not fit all. All member states have to have their idiosyncratic solutions for their energy systems and climate neutrality aspirations,” he said.
He also called on the EU not to put the fight against climate change aside, “as is being done now in Germany, where they are turning on coal-fired power plants again” to help the country meet its energy needs.