A good week before its introduction, the controversial gas surcharge to support ailing gas importers is still under constitutional review.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior is currently carrying out this task together with the Federal Ministry of Justice, a spokesman said on Friday in Berlin. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil fundamentally questioned the measure, which had been sharply criticized by the opposition from the start.

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) had expressed legal concerns about the gas levy as a result of the nationalization of the Uniper Group. With the levy, importers who have to buy expensive elsewhere because of failed Russian deliveries should be able to pass on 90 percent of these additional costs. With Uniper, however, a state-owned company would soon be the largest recipient of the funds.

It is therefore currently being discussed whether the gas surcharge should be dropped again due to Uniper’s nationalisation. The comparison portal “Check24” has calculated how much money consumers would save if the gas surcharge were dropped and VAT remained at seven percent.

“The gas levy is now put to the test,” SPD leader Klingbeil told the editorial network Germany. In a crisis situation like the current one, a government “also needs the strength to reconsider and correct paths”.

Most recently, the Ministry of Economics said that the Federal Ministry of Finance was responsible for the necessary examination of constitutional conformity. Nevertheless, the surcharge is to be introduced first, as it is “necessary as a bridge to stabilize the gas supply”. Should doubts regarding the financial constitution continue to exist, alternative instruments would then have to be developed.

However, the Ministry of Finance led by Christian Lindner (FDP) said that the gas levy had already been checked and that the nationalization of Uniper would not change the result. According to a report by “Spiegel”, Lindner relies on an expert opinion from his company, which says vaguely: It “seems reasonable to maintain the view” that the gas surcharge will remain sustainable even after Uniper is nationalized.

The interior and justice ministries are now examining the measure: “I can tell you that this examination is ongoing,” said a spokesman for the ministry of Nancy Faeser (SPD). He couldn’t say more about it.

In view of the ongoing debate about the introduction, the comparison portal Check24 explained that an average household would be relieved of 306 euros a year if the surcharge were not to be paid if the reduction in the VAT rate on gas from 19 to seven percent was maintained at the same time. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced the reduction in VAT, which is also to take effect from October 1st, in response to criticism of the gas levy.