Measures for the reduction of excise duty on heating oil and for tackling energy poverty in Greece

Written question – Measures for the reduction of excise duty on heating oil and for tackling energy poverty in Greece – E-008245/2016

31 October 2016
E-008245-16
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Notis Marias (ECR)

Written question – Measures for the reduction of excise duty on heating oil and for tackling energy poverty in Greece – E-008245/2016

According to the Buildings Performance Institute Europe, the inability to maintain adequate heating in Greece concerns 70% of households, while the corresponding rate in the European Union amounts to 10.8%.

At the same time, according to the Hellenic Petroleum Marketing Companies Association, the total of the taxes imposed on heating oil in Greece corresponds to 51.1% of the retail price, while the average corresponding rate in the European Union is 32.1%.

It should be noted that, despite the tax increase on heating oil in 2016, the heating allowance for households with low incomes will remain the same as in 2015. This fact, coupled with the increase in the retail price of oil by 20% compared to April 2016, is expected to aggravate the inability to heat the homes.

As recognised by the Commission in the answer to our Question E-000827/2016, Greece can reduce the tax rates applicable to heating oil.

In view of this:

1. Is the Commission, as a member of the troika, prepared to accept reductions in the above tax rates?
2. What additional measures does the Commission intend to propose to address energy poverty in Greece and particularly the inability to heat homes?

 

Answer to a written question – Measures for the reduction of excise duty on heating oil and for tackling energy poverty in Greece – E-008245/2016

6 March 2017
E-008245/2016
Answer given by Mr Moscovici on behalf of the Commission
1. EU legislation only sets harmonised minimum rates. Decisions of Member States on excise duty and VAT rates above these minima depend on national policies, including fiscal policy. Greece can reduce the rates applied to the products mentioned by the Honourable Member but has to ensure that its fiscal targets are met. All the fiscal measures that Greece intends to take for ensuring sustainable public finances and achieving sizeable and sustainable primary surpluses are described in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Greece and the Commission, acting on behalf of the European Stability Mechanism(1).2. The economic crisis had an unprecedented impact on social welfare. As stated in the MoU, the most pressing priority for the Government is to provide immediate support to the most vulnerable to help alleviate the impact of the renewed downturn. A temporary package of humanitarian measures has been adopted and will be phased-out to coincide with the implementation of the nationwide rollout of the guaranteed minimum income scheme (GMI). The authorities are benefitting from available technical assistance from international organisations and the Commission in this area.3. Finally, the Commission maintains that Greece should reduce the carbon content of its fuel mix. This is particularly relevant for heating, where the prevalence of heating oil leads to higher emissions and higher costs for consumers. The ongoing reforms and liberalisations in the natural gas market should encourage a wider adoption of natural gas as heating fuel, which is less costly and less carbon-intensive. The reduction in the excise on natural gas used for heating by households, which was adopted as part of the programme, should have a positive effect in this regard.

(1) http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/assistance_eu_ms/greek_loan_facility/pdf/smou_en.pdf

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