There were enough doubts about the desired effectiveness of the “tank discount”. Now the Economics Minister wants to deal with the “mess” that has arisen – and is targeting antitrust law.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck wants to present proposals for stricter antitrust law “as soon as possible” in view of persistently high fuel prices.
“We are doing antitrust law with claws and teeth,” said Habeck on Monday on Deutschlandfunk. He cannot and will not take the idea of taxing excess profit off the table because he thinks it is right, said the Green politician. With a view to the resistance of the FDP, Habeck also said that the taxation of excess profits does not seem to be able to win a majority in the traffic light coalition. So now antitrust law will be used.
From Habeck’s point of view, assigning blame to who is responsible within the government alliance of the SPD, Greens and FDP for the tank discount that has failed so far does not help. Such a debate is pointless. This tax cut was never what the Greens wanted. “But if a not-so-good idea goes badly, then of course you still have to help.”
Against the “mess”
There have been enough warning voices, said Habeck with a view to the so-called tank discount. But now it’s about looking ahead and “not letting yourself be maneuvered into complete helplessness”. He will take responsibility “to make the mess a little less big,” said Habeck.
According to Habeck’s plans, the Cartel Office should be given more opportunities to intervene, for example to be able to take tougher action against mineral oil companies. Competition guardians should also be able to skim off profits when companies abuse their market power. As a last resort, demergers should also be possible in the case of dominant positions.
According to Habeck, profits can theoretically already be skimmed off under current antitrust law. But this is difficult to apply because it has to be proven that there is a cartel. In order to facilitate this proof – “ie this bequeathed market” that works like a cartel, antitrust law must be reformed. There have already been demergers in Germany, said Habeck. “Politics is not as defenseless as one sometimes thinks.”