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.
Aviation is the most carbon intensive transport mode, yet European member states exempt airlines from fuel tax and airline tickets completely from VAT. Now, with its aviation state aid guidelines, the Commission has decided to open the floodgates and expand operating aid to airports in an effort to boost their turnover.
The European Commission today published its final guidelines on state aid for aviation, which will allow regional airports and the airlines serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth an estimated €2-3 billion a year.
Foreign airlines that failed to comply with the EU’s aviation emissions trading system (ETS) must be forced to pay for their pollution, environmental NGOs have told authorities in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.
MEPs on the Environment Committee today stood up to political pressure from member states and industry by voting to endorse the European Commission’s proposal for an aviation emissions trading system covering all of Europe’s airspace. Although the proposal regulates only 35% of airline emissions compared to the original EU ETS, it crucially captures a portion of long-haul flights – where most of aviation’s greenhouse gases originate.
MEPs have sent a signal that Europe should fight back against attempts to reduce its efforts to combat emissions from air transport. The European Parliament’s environment committee has voted to support the Commission’s proposal that all carbon dioxide that aircraft emit in European airspace should be subject to emissions trading, and not simply emissions from intra-EU flights. T&E joined forces with the group of low-fares airlines to support the Commission’s proposal.
Transport & Environment and the European Low Fares Airline Association have joined forces to support Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s lead member on the aviation emissions file, in his call for MEPs to back the Commission’s proposal, which would cover all aircraft emissions in European airspace.
NGOs wrote to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken Europe’s emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation. Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) urged the leaders to support the European Commission's proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations.
The European Commission has proposed to change the geographical scope of the EU ETS. This would result in fewer emissions under the cap, and consequently a smaller absolute emissions reduction. This note by CE Delft analyses how the cap would need to be changed in order to ensure a constant absolute emission reduction from the aviation sector. It finds that the cap needs to be 15-55% lower than the one proposed by the Commission.
The new Commission proposal cuts the emissions coverage and environmental impact of the aviation Emissions Trading System by two thirds. Only the portion of flights leaving the European Economic Area (EEA) which are within EEA ‘airspace’ would be covered under this proposal. The proposal also exempts from emissions coverage all carriers operating on routes from the EEA to over 80 developing countries with less than 1% of aviation emissions.