Why is refueling in the Netherlands so much more expensive than in other countries?

Due to the enormous attention for the increased gas and electricity prices, the usual fuss about expensive petrol has been relatively absent in recent weeks. While a liter of petrol along the highway now costs more than 2 euros. The national suggested retail price of the major oil companies, a rate that is often only used along the highway, was 2.05 euros for a liter of Euro 95 on Thursday. How is that in other countries?

Holidaymakers have known for some time that refueling in the Netherlands is very expensive. Petrol is not more expensive in any European country than in the Netherlands, according to an overview by United Consumers. The Danish petrol, which is 7 percent cheaper than in the Netherlands, comes closest to the Dutch price. In Belgium and Germany, the price difference is already much greater. A full tank of 50 liters is there, measured according to the official rates, about 16 euros cheaper. So it pays to drive tens of kilometers to the neighboring country to buy cheap petrol. The Netherlands is also one of the most expensive countries outside Europe. Only in Hong Kong is the gasoline currently even more expensive.

Many motorists rarely pay this highest price. The rates are much lower at a pump in a residential area or at an unmanned station. A manned pumping station in a residential area is on average about 13 cents cheaper than along the highway, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. Refueling at an unmanned filling station saves another 5 cents per litre. These petrol prices have therefore not yet risen above 2 euros, but are approaching this psychological barrier rapidly.

The high rates in the Netherlands are mainly due to excise duties and taxes. By way of comparison: worldwide a liter of petrol costs an average of 1.04 euros, mainly because of the lower taxes. Petrol prices are also rising in other countries, because the oil price has also risen due to shortages and the rapid economic growth after the corona crisis. The oil price has only risen less rapidly than the gas price, because oil can be transported more easily by ship to countries where there is a lot of demand.

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This year, a motorist in the Netherlands pays 81 cents in excise duties on a liter of petrol. Recently, the famous Kok penny from 1991 has been cited by some older motorists as the cause of these high rates. What they forget is that this one-off increase by the then Minister of Finance was still calculated on guilder cents. Moreover, this ‘quarter’ was the sum of 18 guilder cents for petrol and 7 guilder cents for diesel. The angry motorist can therefore only blame 8.7 euro cents of the 81 cents excise tax on the penny.

The VAT, the tax that is charged on the entire sales price, has much more impact on the pump price. Since oil has risen in price on the world market, the raw petrol price is also rising. Together with the excise duties, the petrol price excluding VAT therefore rises. Motorists then pay 21 percent tax on this higher price. Along the highway, the motorist therefore already pays 35 cents in VAT per liter of Euro 95. For example, the VAT acts as a lever, causing the rates at the pump to rise even faster.

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