After months of political rancor and legal obstacles, the French government on March 23 shelved its plan to introduce a tax on carbon emissions that had been a cornerstone of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s environmental policy. Ministers and members of the governing UMP party said the tax would put French companies at a disadvantage to their European neighbors, most of whom do not pay anything similar. But analysts said the drubbing handed to the center-right government on Sunday in regional elections brought the U-turn from Sarkozy. Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the country’s environmental policy needed to be “better coordinated with the European Union,” particularly so that French companies do not lose ground against their German counterparts. Other European countries — notably Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Finland — have already implemented carbon taxes, but others, including Germany and the Netherlands, would probably be reluctant to go along. Britain and Poland are generally opposed to any tax harmonization at the European level. (New York Times)

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