Germany’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has proposed an EU-wide tax on petrol to cover the costs of the refugee crisis.
While scepticism towards the European Union and its institutions continues to increase, Mr Schäuble proposal is the latest attempt to sound out other member states on their support for an EU-wide tax, following similar proposals for a carbon tax or financial transactions tax.
In an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper published on Saturday (16 January), Mr Schäuble said:
“If the funds in the national budgets and the European budget are not sufficient, then let us agree for instance on collecting a levy on every litre of petrol at a specific amount,
“We have to secure Schengen’s external borders now. The solution of these problems must not fail because of a lack of funds,”
The idea, discussed at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels last week, has raised concerns in a number of member states that the proposed measures would seek to expand the EU’s power over taxation – currently a prerogative of individual countries under the current EU treaties.
The German finance minister has admitted that it was the attacks on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve that have stepped up pressure on the CDU-lead German government to find a solution to the current crisis following the arrival of one million migrants into Germany in 2015.
That the first proposal to deal with a crisis stemming partly from a failure of the EU policy, should call for greater powers for the EU will not come as a surprise to those familiar with crisis management in Brussels where the answer always seems to be ‘more Europe’.