By Gunnar Schupelius
VAT should be reduced on fruit and vegetables, but not on meat, so that we can eat ‘climate-friendly’. Responsible citizens, however, decide for themselves what they want to eat. Politicians must not interfere in this decision, says Gunnar Schupelius.
Prices go up and up, the inflation rate is approaching ten percent. Money is getting tighter in low- and middle-income households.
So calls for a VAT reduction on groceries are getting louder. The federal government has taken up the idea, but wants to combine it with an educational measure: The tax should only be reduced for food that is “climate-friendly,” meaning not meat by definition.
Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) proposed on April 21 to eliminate VAT entirely, but only for fruits and vegetables. To justify himself, he said: “In this way, we not only ease the burden on consumers, but also promote healthy nutrition.” Özdemir is a self-confessed vegetarian.
Almost two weeks later, on May 3, Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) followed suit, calling for “VAT rates for food to be adjusted according to its climate impact.” This is intended to promote a “climate-friendly diet”. Habeck was working on a corresponding bill.
And Baden-Württemberg’s Agriculture Minister Peter Hauk (CDU) joined the “climate-friendly nutrition” chorus: “That would be the right signal in the current situation.”
VAT is usually 19 percent, but only 7 percent for staples like milk, meat, fruit, vegetables, and baked goods. Until now, it should not have dropped below five percent.
But that is now possible, because in April Brussels changed the EU’s so-called “VAT system directive”. Goods that are necessary for basic needs can now be completely exempt from tax.
The federal government wants to use this opportunity to ease the burden on citizens, but only if they eat vegetarian or vegan food. Such regulation, however, would be paternalism of the worst kind: the government decides what we should eat.
And he handles it with his wallet too. It goes without saying that low-income groups are the most affected. Because if you have enough income despite inflation, you can continue to eat meat in the future, everyone else will have to switch to tax-exempt vegetables.
In other words, if the government only lowers the tax on fruits and vegetables, it will withhold meat and dairy from the poor of all people.
Politicians want to use the difficult situation of inflation for a new national education. This is rude and authoritarian. What we eat and what we don’t eat is a private matter: responsible citizens decide for themselves what they eat. Politicians must not interfere in this decision.
The “climate friendly nutrition” bill must be taken off the table immediately. Ministers Özdemir, Habeck and Hauk should publicly withdraw this attempt to interfere in free decision-making.
Is Gunnar Schupelius right? Phone: 030/2591 73153 or email: [email protected]