The Minister of Environment and Energy Transition, João Matos Fernandes, in an interview with "Público" newspaper (October 20 edition), reveals that the Deputy Minister of Economy, Pedro Siza Vieira, is conducting the report of the working group on energy taxation. "Yes and there is no reason why it should stop being", affirms Matos Fernandes, indicating that although the Energy portfolio has been transferred to the Ministry of the Environment meanwhile, Siza Vieira will continue to deal with this matter related to the Energy sector .
On May 11, at the time Deputy Minister, Siza Vieira asked Prime Minister António Costa to intervene in matters related to the Energy sector, in accordance with the provisions of the Government Code of Conduct. Siza Vieira justified the request by launching a takeover bid for the entire share capital of EDP and the subsidiary EDP Renováveis by China Three Gorges, which is being advised by the law firm Linklaters.
For 16 years, until joining the current Government (in October 2017), Siza Vieira worked at Linklaters, as a lawyer and partner of the firm (between 2006 and 2016, in fact, he was the managing partner). As such, it understood that "the situation may raise doubts" about its impartiality. According to Article 6 of the Government Code of Conduct (in force since September 2016), "it is considered that there is a conflict of interest when the members of the Government are in a situation whereby one can reasonably doubt seriousness of the impartiality of their conduct or decision ".
In view of the "conflict of interest", Article 7 stipulates that "any member of the Government facing a conflict of interests shall communicate the situation to the Prime Minister … as soon as he detects the potential risk of conflict". Furthermore, "any member of the Government confronted with a current or potential conflict of interests shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent, remedy or terminate the conflict in question."
To confirm the revelation of Matos Fernandes, the fact is that Siza Vieira continues to deal with issues related to the Energy sector, which raises "doubts about its impartiality," as he himself acknowledged when asking for excuse about five months. At that time, the Prime Minister granted Siza Vieira's request for an exemption, dismissing him from intervening in matters related to the Energy sector during the OPA launched by China Three Gorges. It should be noted that the operation in question is still in progress and that the request for excuse remains in force.
Moreover, as part of the government's reshuffle this week, the prime minister decided to transfer the Energy portfolio from the Ministry of Economy to the Ministry of the Environment, insofar as Siza Vieira could not deal with matters related to this portfolio. And on the way he fired the Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Seguro Sanches, replaced by João Galamba, MP of the PS.
According to Matos Fernandes, however, Siza Vieira is (and will continue) to lead the work of the working group on taxation in Energy, created in February this year with the objective of "promoting an analysis of taxation that focuses on energy in order to identify and study tax incentives that harm the environment and propose its progressive elimination, as well as propose the revitalization of the carbon tax, taking into account possible impacts on the economic sectors covered, in a framework of decarbonisation of the economy. "
"But the Deputy Minister had not asked for an excuse on Energy issues? Is not this an Energy theme? ", Asked the" Público "journalists in the interview. To which Matos Fernandes responds as follows: "I do not know the terms of what was requested. The Deputy Minister has been following and well, very well, this theme ".