GERMANY, Berlin. It had been long awaited in Germany: the feasibility study on the proposals of the Borchert Commission. The transformation of livestock farming is on the agenda.
One thing is clear: the transformation of livestock farming toward greater animal welfare is unavoidable. But how will it be financed? The expert commission headed by Jochen Borchert made proposals on this, and now the legal assessment is available.
Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) had commissioned proven experts for this purpose: Dr. Ulrich Karpenstein, an expert in European and constitutional law, Martin Scheele and Dr. Rudolf Mögele, both of whom formerly worked in the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture. Their verdict: All three financing options proposed by the Borchert Commission are viable. However, the meat tax under discussion would conflict with the EU's ban on discrimination. After all, the tax would also apply to imported goods, but would only benefit German livestock farmers. In addition, the administrative burden would be very high, the experts said.
As a further possibility for financing, the Borchert Commission names an increase in the reduced VAT rate for meat to 19%. The experts even suggest increasing the rate for all foodstuffs by 2.5%. Here, however, there is just as much a threat of conflict with EU law, since taxation applies to everyone, but that would have to be remedied. The panel presented as the legally and administratively simplest solution the supplementary levy on income tax, a kind of solidarity surcharge.
Today, the minister will present the report to the Bundestag's Agriculture Committee, and then discussions will begin in parliamentary groups and parties. "I don't think much of rushing things," Klöckner said, adding that what is needed is a careful debate and long-term consensus.