Portugal proposes majority voting on eco-taxes

Portugal, the current President of the Council of Ministers, has proposed that certain eco-taxes should be approved by majority voting, replacing the current system of unanimous voting.

These plans are the main feature in a progress report that puts forward ways in which the Treaty of the EU can be altered in order to cope with the anticipated rise in the number of Member States. It is believed that, as the membership grows, the introduction of majority voting for several key policy areas will improve decision-making.

Portugal decided to limit the scope of majority voting to three types of taxes, including those implemented for the sole purpose of environmental protection. In doing so, this proposal has largely ignored the European Parliament’s suggestion that majority voting should be used to approve all environmental law. Portugal’s proposals do, however, still allow Member States the right to use the principle of subsidiarity to opt out of several EU laws including town and country planning and all land-use (except waste management).

It is worth noting that, the EU energy products tax – a measure designed, amongst other things, to counteract global warming – will not benefit from these proposals, since it is not solely aimed at environmental protection. Portugal has also suggested that any proposals which significantly affect Member States’ energy policies should continue to be agreed unanimously.

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