MADRID, May 27 (Reuters) - Spain’s acting government has called on the European Union to assess a potential carbon tax on power imports to protect the bloc’s interests and help it to pursue its environmental targets amid growing public concern over climate change.
In a letter sent to their counterparts in the European Commision last week, Energy Minister Teresa Ribera and Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero said the EU should take advantage of the negotiations for the bloc’s long-term budget to open a “proper debate” on such a border levy.
Buoyed by his Socialist Party’s victory in Sunday’s European elections, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants to thrust Spain back to the heart of the bloc’s decision-making, climate change being one of the issues it wants to have a say on.
Sanchez’s party, which is trying to form a new government after winning last month’s general election, is now on track to become the biggest contingent in the EU assembly’s Socialist group.
“Custom duties are traditional own budgetary resources; therefore, a carbon border tax would perfectly fit within the traditional EU approach on this field,” read the Spanish ministers’ letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
Addressed to EU Climate chief Miguel Arias Canete and Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner in charge of taxation and customs, it also said such a levy would help Europe reinforce its industrial policy and ensure a level playing field in the global markets.
“If Europe ends up importing goods produced under lower climate standards, the emissions we avoid will be counterbalanced, or even overcome, by those generated in countries where goods are manufactured,” the ministers wrote.
Spanish daily El Pais has said the proposal is meant to limit power imports from Morocco, but the ministers made no mention of any specific country.
Spain, which usually exported its renewable power to its north African neighbour, became a net importer of Moroccan energy produced by thermal plants at the end of 2018, according to reports by several Spanish media earlier this year.
The EU has plans in place to curb carbon dioxide emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. (Reporting by Belen Carreño, written by Jose Elías Rodríguez, editing by Andrei Khalip and Pritha Sarkar)