The American group ExxonMobil seized Wednesday the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) against the tax on the “superprofits” of the energy giants decided by Brussels, which could according to the company “discourage investments”.
Adopted at the end of September and officially called the "temporary solidarity contribution", this charge is supposed to be paid by the producers and distributors of oil, gas and coal who have made enormous profits thanks to the surge in prices following the war in Ukraine.
The system allows EU states to deduct 33% of taxable profits for 2022, which are more than 20% higher than the average for the years 2019-21, in order to redistribute them to households and businesses faced with the explosion of bills.
In proposing it, the European Commission had taken care not to use the word "tax", because any new tax provision at European level would have required the unanimity of the twenty-Seven, a more complicated and risky procedure than an adoption at qualified majority.
The idea was in particular to avoid procedures like the one initiated on Wednesday before the CJEU in Luxembourg by the German and Dutch subsidiaries of ExxonMobil. The CJEU can be seized by a company when it considers that an EU institution has infringed its rights.
"We recognize that Europe's energy crisis is taking a heavy toll on families and businesses, and we are working to increase Europe's energy supply," company spokesman Casey Norton said in a statement. message sent to AFP.
But the taxation of "superprofits" is "counter-productive", he says. It will “undermine investor confidence, discourage investment and increase dependence on imported energy and petroleum products,” he adds.
The Commission "took note of the complaint filed" by ExxonMobil, but "maintains that the measure in question was in full compliance with EU law", reacted to AFP a spokesperson for the executive. European.
According to her, the Twenty-Seven were right to resort to an emergency text (that is to say adopted directly by the States without consultation with the European Parliament) in the name of “solidarity” in the face of the energy crisis.
The mechanism “targets excessive profits in oil, gas, coal”, and therefore “aims to maintain the incentives to invest for the green energy transition”, while the funds collected will be exclusively returned to vulnerable and industrial consumers and companies. energy-intensive, argued this spokesperson.
Brussels estimates that the scheme could bring some 25 billion euros to member states.
During a presentation to investors in early December, the chief financial officer of ExxonMobil had estimated that the European tax would cost the group “more than 2 billion dollars”. She also clarified that the final amount would depend on how Member States integrate this measure into their 2023 budget.
In total, ExxonMobil posted a net profit of $37.6 billion in the second and third quarters alone.
US President Joe Biden denounced these "war profits" at the end of October, deploring that the profits generated by hydrocarbon companies are returned to shareholders while prices at the pump for motorists remain high.