Tuesday

21st Mar 2023

Brussels considering climate tax on imports

  • The carbon tariff on foreign firms would create a level playing field for European companies (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission is considering proposing a carbon dioxide tariff on imports from states failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, while also considering a toughening-up of the EU's own emission trading system.

According to a draft commission proposal, firms from heavily polluting countries outside Europe would be obliged to buy EU carbon emission permits as part of the bloc's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), Reuters reports.

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 commission is reportedly still internally divided on the idea, ahead of a raft of proposals on a post-2012 climate change policy which it is due to table on 23 January.

The carbon tariff on foreign firms would create a level playing field for European companies which are currently already bearing the costs of the ETS - a system under which firms can buy and sell excess CO2 emissions, putting an overall ceiling on emissions levels.

The plan reflects pressure by French president Nicolas Sarkozy who argued in October that Europe should "examine the option of taxing products imported from countries that do not respect the Kyoto Protocol," referring to the 1997 international agreement on fighting climate change.

Mr Sarkozy urged Brussels to discuss the implications of "unfair competition" by firms outside the EU, which do not have to abide by strict European standards on CO2 emissions.

But the carbon tax idea has met opposition from EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson who has said it would be hard to implement and could lead to trade disputes, according to Reuters.

The EU's main trading partner, the US, has not signed the Kyoto protocol, and is already locked in a dispute with Brussels on its plan to include the airlines industry in the ETS.

Meanwhile, the commission draft also foresees more stringent green rules for EU companies after 2012, when the Kyoto treaty expires.

The plan says that by 2020, the total amount of emission permits on the EU market should be 21 percent less than in 2005, according to German paper Handelsblatt.

This means EU firms should slash their CO2 emissions by one fifth on average in the 2013-2020 period.

In addition, from 2013, 60 percent of emission certificates should be auctioned rather than handed out for free to companies - whereas in the 2008-2012 period, firms are getting 90 percent of allowances free of charge.

The plans come at a time when the EU is trying to assume a leadership role in fighting climate change on the world stage - but the commission and member states are bickering continuously on who should bear the burden of CO2 cuts.

New member state Romania has become the latest country to contest the commission-imposed emission ceilings, Reuters reports.

Bucharest on 21 December filed a complaint at the European Court of Justice against a commission decision to slash its 2008-2018 emissions by 20.7 percent and lower its 2007 ceiling by 10 percent.

The move follows similar court action against Brussels by several other member states.

MEPs press EU Commission over Qatari-paid business-class flights

Pro-transparency MEPs are asking probing questions into possible conflict of interest between a senior EU commission official and Qatar, following revelations his business class trips were paid by Doha while negotiating a market access deal for its national airline.

Feature

Germany as a laboratory of 'communism vs capitalism'

A new exhibition at the Deutsches Historiches Musuem in Berlin unveils industrial photography of Germany's steel, coal, car, chemical and textile industries from the 1950s to 1980s — some in East Germany, some in West. But which was which?

Opinion

Turkey's election — the Erdoğan vs Kılıçdaroğlu showdown

Turkey goes to the polls in May for both a new parliament and new president, after incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided against a post-earthquake postponement. The parliamentary outcome is easy to predict — the presidential one less so.

Latest News

  1. Turkey's election — the Erdoğan vs Kılıçdaroğlu showdown
  2. When geopolitics trump human rights, we are all losers
  3. EU starts talks on 11th round of Russia sanctions
  4. EU fears Tunisia turmoil will spark migrant boat departures
  5. 'Symbolic' Putin indictment gets some EU backing
  6. 'Final warning' to act on climate change, warns IPCC
  7. 'No one is unemployable': the French social experiment
  8. Why can't we stop marches glorifying Nazism on EU streets?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality
  5. Promote UkraineInvitation to the National Demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine on 25.02.2023
  6. Azerbaijan Embassy9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us