Sep 14, 2022
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They want to force Moscow to pay “sanctioned” taxes to Brussels

The EU failed to agree on a price ceiling for Russian gas. Nevertheless, the issue of limiting our country’s income from the export of “blue fuel” is not deleted from the agenda of European officials. As reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, instead of the gas “ceiling” the European Union may introduce an additional tax for producers, which will be aimed at withdrawing excess profits from energy companies to stabilize fuel prices for consumers on the continent. Due to such a measure, as calculated by the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the national budgets of European countries will be able to attract up to 140 billion euros.

Whether a new instrument that hinders the income of not only Russian, but also all other producers of raw materials, will be able to earn money, MK was told by Alexei Grivach, deputy general director of the National Energy Security Fund.

– Previously, the EU tried to hit Russian export earnings. But does the new tax mechanism promise to affect all, without exception, suppliers of “blue fuel” to European countries?

– We are talking about taxes that will be levied on residents, that is, companies that operate in the EU internal market and sell hydrocarbons or electricity to local customers. For gas suppliers that are not legally registered in the EU, such taxes cannot be introduced.

It should be noted right away that if the distribution of a certain tax product developed in the EU disrupts trade relations between specific consumers and suppliers of raw materials, then our country can no longer be blamed for disrupting the heating season of the Old World. Russia does not have profit centers registered on the territory of the European Union from pipeline gas supplies: the structures that existed until recently have either been reformed by domestic owners or destroyed by European officials. All profits go to Russia, and there is no legal justification for the withdrawal of these revenues by European structures through the introduction of new taxes.

– It turns out that they wanted to punish Russia, and as a result, all participants in the gas market fall under the fiscal comb? How can this tax actually work?

– Indeed, the Europeans are somewhat confused, developing means of combating the rapidly rising energy resources and at the same time taking steps to reduce Russia’s income from raw exports. Of course, such a large-scale idea, like the new fiscal taxation of superprofits of global energy producers, should command respect, but its implementation risks running into fierce opposition from market participants. As for the fiscal mechanism itself, it is absolutely incomprehensible to whom the trader will be addressed to fulfill such obligations: directly to the producer of raw materials registered in the country where the fields being developed are located, or to a virtual trader than the office is located somewhere in the Bahamas, but which produces trading operations.

– Can you guess the level of additional taxes? Maybe some kind of progressive tax scale will be introduced: for Russia, the rate will be at the maximum level, for the rest – much lower?

– The Europeans are planning to introduce new fees as part of the “solidarity tax”, which is established in a number of EU states to finance projects that serve to unite countries. As a rule, such tax is charged for a short time in addition to the income tax of both individuals and legal entities. In Germany, which approved a “solidarity surcharge” thirty years ago after the reunification of the FRG and the GDR for the additional fiscal levies needed to invest in the poorest federal states, the tax was seen as unconstitutional.

It is difficult to say what the EU tax rate will be on the excess profits of primary producers: so far there is neither a project nor an accepted limit, which can be further promoted as the main element of fiscal innovations. Intervention in the pricing of any product always harms market principles – both in the case of determining the balance of supply and demand, and in assigning the real cost of energy resources. I can say for sure: the “gas ceiling”, determined even with the help of tax measures, will not reduce the cost of fuel on the world market.

– Whose treasury will the taxes go to: the European Union or the importing countries? What volume of additionally attracted fiscal funds can we talk about?

– Most likely, taxes will flow into the national budgets of EU members. It is unlikely that the governments of importing countries will agree to give the proceeds from such a measure to EU officials. Moreover, as the head of the European Commission said earlier, we will talk about additional revenue of 140 billion euros. True, it will be difficult for Europeans to calculate excess profits. Let’s say a Norwegian company produces gas in the North Sea and delivers it to the EU market, selling fuel at a price of $2,000 per thousand cubic meters. At the same time, the company’s production cost of the corresponding volume does not exceed $100. Theoretically, it is necessary to impose a tax on excess profits against such a producer, but in this case, European business, whose representatives do not get involved in politics and are guided solely by market principles, will be subject to obstruction.

— What consequences for suppliers and buyers can the recalculation of exporters’ income from the sale of energy resources on the European market lead to?

— It is obvious that any actions to reduce the supply of hydrocarbons to Europe, especially by not quite legally limiting the prices for supplied fuel in contracts, in the very near future may lead to a decrease in oil or gas shipments by suppliers, which clearly will not support the energy balance of the continent. In reality, this will lead to an even greater reduction in the supply of energy resources, a worsening fuel shortage and an increase in prices for raw materials. The Europeans will try to soften the new blows by limiting the distribution of fuel and electricity in the domestic market to final consumers, who are likely to be given subsidies for the purchase of raw materials financed from national budgets. That’s why they want to “push through” the new tax. However, even government subsidies will not solve the fuel shortage problem. Some volumes of gas will simply become uncompetitive on the European market and will begin to move to Asia. The new tax that Europe is going to levy on gas producers will attract them to those regions of the world where “living” energy resources are primarily needed to ensure production or supply households.

— Moscow has already warned Europe to stop gas supplies if any restrictive measures of its cost seem unfair to us. Will other raw material suppliers be able to join such a moratorium?

– Suppliers from other mining regions of the planet, registered and paying taxes in their own national jurisdiction, have every right to block the supply of raw materials to the Old World. I think this will happen in practice. First, a change in tax rules will lead to contract disputes, and then, for sure, supplies to the continent will either be reduced or stopped altogether. I believe that such problems are the last that the EU would like to face in the run-up to the coming winter.

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