Saturday

4th Dec 2021

China joins legal battle against EU aviation tax

  • The EU has said it will stick with its carbon emissions plans (Photo: El Bingle)

Four Chinese airlines are to legally challenge Europe's new carbon emission taxes, which are due to take effect from 1 January.

The four carriers - Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines - have the backing of the country's air transport association, which claims the new carbon emission rules will cost Chinese airlines some €95 million.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The association asked all Chinese carriers not to take part in the EU carbon trading scheme, not to submit carbon emission monitoring plans or to negotiate with the EU on a bilateral basis.

From 1 January airlines will be required to buy permits for 15 percent of the emissions generated on flights to, from and within the EU. The figure will rise to 18 percent in 2013-2020.

US airlines have already challenged the scheme in court.

A ruling by the European Court of Justice is expected on Wednesday. A legal opinion by the court issued in October said the carbon emission rules were compatible with EU law. The opinion is non-binding, but it is usually followed by the judges in their final verdict.

Some airlines, such as America's cargo giant UPS, are already thinking about re-routing flights in order to side-step the scheme and cut costs, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move is likely to end up creating more carbon emissions.

Mitch Nichols, president of UPS Airlines, told the newspaper that the company may look at redirecting flights between its hubs in Hong Kong and Cologne, Germany, by going through Mumbai. That will cut the cost of the tax by about a quarter because UPS would only be charged for the distance flown between Cologne and Mumbai. But the distance flown will increase by 1,100 miles, upping the emissions.

US foreign policy chief Hillary Clinton last week sent a letter to several EU commissioners urging them to suspend the enforcement of the carbon scheme and re-negotiate with governments around the world.

"Halt or, at a minimum, delay or suspend application of this directive. Re-engage with the rest of the world. The United States stands ready to engage in such an effort. Absent such willingness on the part of the EU, we will be compelled to take appropriate action," she warned.

In a statement on Tuesday (20 December), the Association of European Airlines expressed fears of an imminent trade war should the plan go ahead. "Even if the ECJ (EU court) decides that the EU (emissions trading scheme) conforms with EU law, this will not resolve non-European countries' vehement hostility," it said.

EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard has refused to back down, however.

"It is not just an idea, it is EU law," she told Financial Times Deutschland, stressing that the commission will not give in to pressure from the US or elsewhere.

EU court backs airline emissions cap

An EU plan to cap airplane emissions from January is legal, the advocate general of the European Court of Justice said on Thursday in a response to a complaint from US airlines. The industry expressed its 'disappointment' with the legal opinion, which is usually confirmed by the court's verdicts.

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

News in Brief

  1. Covid: Belgium might close schools and cultural activities
  2. EU consumers can sue Facebook, judge advised
  3. French centre-right tilts toward Pécresse
  4. EU urged to blacklist Israeli spyware firm
  5. Austria's ex-chancellor Kurz quits politics
  6. EU agency: Omicron to be over half of infections 'within months'
  7. New German restrictions target the unvaccinated
  8. EU commission unveils proposal to digitalise justice systems

Belgian impasse leaves asylum seekers on snowy streets

Asylum seekers have been sleeping in the streets, some for weeks, in the Belgian capital Brussels - as the government grapples over the lack of capacity to accommodate them despite months of debate over the issue.

EU energy ministers clash amid gas price uncertainty

EU energy ministers met on Thursday to debate spiking gas and electricity prices, and clashed over market reform - with some countries, led by Germany, opposing actions put forward by France and others.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium tightens Covid rules as health system 'is cracking'
  2. EU and US tighten screw on Lukashenko
  3. Belgian impasse leaves asylum seekers on snowy streets
  4. EU 'missed chance' to set fossil-fuel subsidies deadline
  5. EU energy ministers clash amid gas price uncertainty
  6. ECJ told to dismiss Poland and Hungary rule-of-law challenge
  7. Covid: what Germany got right - and wrong
  8. Quick Take: Enrico Letta

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us