Commission to propose EU-wide plastic tax

11 January, Brussels - The European Commission’s Budget Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, has announced that the Commission is planning to introduce a new EU-wide plastics tax, in an effort to drive down plastic pollutants.

The issue of plastic waste has gained increased attention over the past few years, particularly in relation to its impact oceans and marine wildlife. Europe’s position is further complicated by the fact that China has banned imports of plastic wastes, requiring immediate domestic efforts to reduce pollution and increase plastic recycling and re-use.

Details on the plastics tax are, so far, thin on the ground, and Oettinger noted that it is not yet decided if the tax would be imposed on producers or end-users, and whether items such as medicines and healthcare products would be excluded.

The announcement comes within the framework of the forthcoming budget package, where public consultations on EU funds have been opened. The Commission is expected to begin technical discussions in March, and publish its post-2020 multiannual proposal in May.

The Commission is expected to propose a combination of spending cuts and increased contributions in order to make up the budget shortfall as a result of the United Kingdom’s expected departure. The Commission is also expected to propose that some of the income from the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) comes to the central budget, whereas it presently goes to Member State Governments.