Merkel defends nuclear tax in scrap with industry

* Merkel says nuclear tax stands so long as no alternative

* Says talking to industry but sees no alternative yet

* Merkel, with ratings low, faces tough return from recess

By Holger Hansen

BERLIN, Aug 22 (BestGrowthStock) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel
on Sunday stood by her plan to levy a tax on nuclear power
providers, pitting her coalition against industry in a turbulent
return to government business after the summer lull.

Merkel hopes the tax will raise 2.3 billion euros a year as
part of a 80 billion euro budget consolidation drive that she is
determined to press ahead with, keen to set an example of fiscal
discipline for other euro zone countries to follow.

“We have proposed a tax,” Merkel told ZDF television in her
first major interview since returning from her summer break.

“So long as there is no other proposal on the table, the tax
remains.”

Merkel defended the tax plan after industry bosses and
members of her own Christian Democrats (CDU) ramped up pressure
on her on Friday to drop the plan. [ID:nLDE67J0IG]

Although the nuclear tax is part of the budget consolidation
drive, Merkel’s centre-right government is also preparing to
unveil its long-term energy plans at the end of September.

Surveys have long shown that most Germans oppose nuclear
energy, making it a sensitive area for Merkel’s government,
which has pledged to extend the lifespan of nuclear power
stations, even though it has yet to agree on how much.

Merkel, a former environment minister under Helmut Kohl,
told ZDF her government was in talks with the energy companies
about other potential proposals “but I don’t yet see any”.

The nuclear tax is one of a number controversial issues
facing Merkel after the summer recess, with budget cuts and a
reform of the military stacking up as other contentious topics.

The 56-year-old chancellor has failed to capitalise
politically on Germany’s strong economic recovery in the second
quarter — her government’s approval ratings have sunk sharply
since she was re-elected last September.

Her coalition of conservatives and liberals has had to drop
campaign promises of tax cuts and feuded over issues including
nuclear power and welfare reform steps, putting off voters.

A poll published last week showed Merkel’s Christian
Democrats had been overtaken by the centre-left Social Democrats
(SPD) for the first time since her re-election. [ID:nLDE67H0KC]
(Additional Reporting by Sarah Marsh, Writing by Paul Carrel)

Merkel defends nuclear tax in scrap with industry