Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 12:48:50 -0600 (CST)
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: GERMANY: Energy Unions Struggle With Need for Change
Article: 53642
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** headlines: 102.0 **/
** Topic: GERMANY: Energy Unions Struggle With Need for Change **
** Written 11:24 AM Jan 29, 1999 by labornet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 8:16 AM Jan 25, 1999 by in labr.newsline */
/* ---------- GERMAN ENERGY CONSENSUS CALL ---------- */

Real energy consensus needed, German union says

ICEM Update, No.4, 25 January 1999

Germany needs a long-term, reliable consensus on energy policy, which must take just as much account of economic and technical needs as of social responsibility and environmental challenges. That is the view of the country's mine, chemical and energy workers, as set out at a press conference yesterday by Hubertus Schmoldt, President of their union the IG BCE.

All concerned must avoid putting the energy consensus at risk, Schmoldt warned. German and foreign-based firms must be given a reliable basis for investment decisions.

Germany is engaged in a major debate on its future energy options—not least due to the rise of the environmentalist Green party, which is now the Social Democrats' junior partner in the federal coalition government.

In particular, the greening of German energy policy has placed a question mark over the future of nuclear power.

An energy consensus could succeed only if the phasing out of nuclear energy is implemented as a longer-term change, Schmoldt insisted. Decisions on nuclear must also be placed in a broader context, he said. IG BCE supports a comprehensive energy policy whose central component is the well-tried principle of an energy mix. Native energy sources, particularly hard coal and lignite, have a full part to play in this, both now and beyond the year 2005.

Plans for environmentalist energy taxes are one complicating factor in the current German discussion. Originally, exemptions had been proposed for energy-intensive industries. But the waiver plan got the thumbs-down from the EU, and German manufacturing i ndustry could now face a uniform tax rate of 20 per cent on its energy bills.

IG BCE still thinks that complete exemption for industry would be the best solution, Schmoldt said. However, the union could view an energy tax positively provided that the rate for manufacturing industry were 15 percent or less, the tax burden remained constant in absolute terms and commitments to reduce energy use were rewarded with tax incentives.

Energy taxes must not increase industry's overall tax bill, Schmoldt said. Moreover, there must be a binding commitment that the already announced second and third phases of the ecological taxation reforms will be introduced only within the context of a common solution at the European level. It would be damaging for Germany to go it alone, and we would resolutely resist this. Many jobs are at stake, as are the credibility and calculability of policy-making.

At the global level, IG BCE is affiliated to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), of which Hubertus Schmoldt is Vice-President.