The European Union suggested Tuesday ending the veto power its member governments can wield to block taxes on fossil fuels as it promoted energy policies to curb climate change. The European Commission, the 28-nation EU's executive arm, proposed that energy taxes be voted by qualified majority rather than unanimity.
"Energy taxation should support the clean energy transition. This is not the case today," the EU's energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in Brussels. "There is a very clear example: the polluter pays principle doesn't exist in the world of energy taxation," he told a news conference.
He added there are billions of euros a year in subsidies for fossil fuels in the European Union and yet no system to impose taxes to raise investment in clean energy. "The system is outdated. The reason why is the rule of unanimity," Canete said, referring to a taxation framework that dates to 2003.
The proposal comes as part of the five-year-old commission's efforts to promote clean energy and meet EU commitments to the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Canete said the proposal will probably have to be taken forward when a new commission is named later this year following elections in May to the European Parliament.
(With inputs from agencies.)