EU prepares for global aviation talks

Germany calls on fellow states to push for international aviation fuel tax

Germany is calling on its EU partners to urge the rest of the world to end a global ban on taxation of aircraft fuel, ENDS Daily has learned. The EU is preparing a common position to take to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assembly. A draft document obtained by ENDS Daily shows that the EU is currently far from achieving a consensus on the issues.

As guardian of the 1944 Chicago convention, the ICAO is the key standard-setting organisation for international aviation. Its role on environmental issues was further strengthened last December when it was given a leading responsibility for achieving limitations on greenhouse gases as required under the Kyoto protocol.

Following a meeting of the ICAO's aviation environmental protection committee in April, several environmental issues will be on the agenda at the assembly, including further restrictions on aircraft emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx). The EU, which accepted to make a higher average cut in greenhouse gas emissions than other developed countries under the Kyoto protocol, also wants to see movement on this issue at international level.

The EU is split over how much to demand, the document obtained by ENDS Daily shows. A first draft prepared by the European Commission takes a soft approach, proposing that the EU call on the ICAO to look at "the introduction of economic measures" without specifically mentioning fuel taxation. Explaining the reasoning behind the proposal, a Commission official said that explicit references to lifting the current aircraft fuel tax exemption would antagonise other ICAO member countries, the majority of which oppose ending the fuel tax exemption.

Southern EU states, which have traditional been opposed to taxing aviation fuel, are understood to support the Commission's diplomatic approach.

Germany, however, is strongly in favour of strong action to curb aviation emissions of greenhouse gases and will this week table amendments calling on EU states to explicitly demand an end to the international tax exemption.

European environmental groups are also campaigning for taxes to be imposed on aviation as well as a broader aviation charge, which could include a fuel tax, emissions charges or ticket charges.

The European Commission will publish a report on the possible economic repercussions of taxing aircraft fuel in Europe before the end of the year. However, most EU governments are very reluctant to push ahead with unilateral action without broader agreement at international level.

Follow Up:
ICAO, tel: +1 514 954 8219.

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