In mid April 2014, the European Commission opened a consultation on disputed aid to 23 regional airports in relation to the newly revised state aid guidelines for airports and airlines which came into effect at the beginning of the month. T&E believes that decisions that will be taken on state aid under the new guidelines risk further distorting competition in an already heavily subsidised sector, wasting scarce public resources and expanding billions of euros in climate harmful subsidies that will generate more CO2 than the original emissions trading system intended to save. Transport & Environment believes that state aid can only be justified for select small airports in remote areas for which other transport is not a viable option. You can download our consultation response below.
One of the frustrations of EU transport policy is the relentless focus on the internal market as the one-and-only justification for setting standards, introducing rules or spending money. It leaves us all short-changed. On the rare occasion that ‘Brussels’ tries to make suggestions for cities’ or regions’ transport policies to improve air quality, safety or health, the spectre of ‘subsidiarity’ spooks everyone and the idea vanishes.
The EU’s auditors have criticised transport spending again, this time saying public transport projects funded by the EU are not attracting enough users, and that not enough social and environmental benefits are resulting.
The full European Parliament today almost unanimously  voted to change rules for lorry cabins that could save hundreds of lives and reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The vote marks the beginning of the end for Europe’s brick-shaped lorries, which are dangerous and inefficient.
The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published today alerts global leaders to the growing threat of uncontrolled transport emissions. The UN's climate panel says that transport is set to become the world’s biggest source of CO2 emissions unless lawmakers take strong action now. The report states: “Without aggressive and sustained policies (to cut CO2 from cars and trucks), transport emissions could increase at a faster rate than emissions from any other sector.”
Today’s long overdue announcement of a public consultation on investor-state dispute settlement in the EU-US free trade negotiations (dubbed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP) is welcomed but does not change the principle that arbitration should never judge the validity of laws, environmental groups European Environmental Bureau and Transport & Environment have said.
The EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has ordered a public consultation on a legal clause in the emerging EU-US trade agreement that campaigners say could undermine environmental and consumer protection. The legal provision, known as ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, would give companies the right to take legal action against governments if they feel their investment potential or profits are being hindered by regulatory or policy changes at national level. What’s more, such disputes would be judged by special panels made up of people acceptable to business interests, and bypass national laws.
The European Parliament and Member States, concluding final negotiations today on the new fuel infrastructure law, failed to set-out a clear pathway for a low-carbon European transport network. Transport & Environment expresses disappointment at this wasted opportunity, which contains no binding targets for low-carbon charging infrastructure and does little to help a transition towards sustainable e-mobility.
Last week saw Europe extend its dirtiest subsidy, the one that makes ultra-cheap air tickets possible, by at least another decade. That’s the simplest way to sum up new rules for state aid to regional airports and airlines. The text itself is, as usual, almost impossible to read for lay people, so in this piece I will try to paint the rules and their consequences as simply as possible.
State subsidies for regional airports and airlines serving them – mainly the low-cost airlines – will be allowed to continue for at least another 10 years, according to the Commission’s finalised guidelines on state aid for airports. The revised guidelines, which cannot now be challenged by MEPs, are ostensibly aimed at streamlining and tightening state aid for airports.