Germany Says No Decision to Scrap Tax on Nuclear Fuel

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government hasn’t made a decision to scrap a five-month-old nuclear-fuel tax, though all financial measures connected to Germany’s exit from atomic energy are up for discussion, a spokesman said.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to confirm a report in the Financial Times Deutschland that Merkel’s coalition may drop the 2.3 billion-euro ($3.2 billion) annual levy to allow energy companies to invest more in renewable sources of power. Horst Seehofer, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Social Union allies, told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he won’t support the levy.

“There is no such decision,” Seibert told reporters today in Berlin. “It’s very clear that when the government puts forward its concept to accelerate” an ending of nuclear power production, “it will address individual questions, as well as financial questions.”

Merkel ordered Germany’s seven oldest reactors in March to be idled during a three-month review and said she plans to accelerate the switch to renewable energy from nuclear following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. The reversal of her government’s planned extension of the operating lives of German nuclear plants last year coincided with a resurgence in support for the opposition Green party.

The chancellor will meet with coalition leaders on May 29 to discuss how to move forward with the energy plan, aiming to meet a June 6 deadline to get the overhaul through Cabinet.

‘Off the Table’

Seehofer, who is also the Bavarian premier, said the tax is “off the table,” Sueddeutsche reported. He said the government can’t expect energy companies to pay the tax at the same time it scales back licenses and invests in clean energy.

Seibert deflected suggestions that eliminating the tax might be seen as making a deal with utilities. He said Merkel doesn’t plan to meet company executives before June 6, although there are “political contacts” with them.

The nuclear-fuel tax -- levied on EON AG, RWE AG, EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and Vattenfall AB -- was a component of the government’s energy package last year that extended the lives of nuclear plants by an average of 12 years. It was designed to help pay for the clean-up of a nuclear-waste storage site and narrow the budget deficit. The utilities also agreed to make payments to a renewable-energy development fund.

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