Fri 9 May 2008 – The European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety met on Monday (May 5) to discuss its position before the second reading of the EU ETS aviation directive. The Parliament and its co-legislator, the EU Council of Ministers, remain apart on a number of key issues.
The draft recommendation presented to the Committee says that of the 60 amendments passed by the Parliament on the first reading, three have been adopted completely or in substance by the Council, 13 have been adopted partially, but a large majority (44 amendments) have not been considered at all.
“This means that a lot of work needs to be done to find a compromise between the Parliament’s first reading and the Council,” says the report.
The Parliament’s rapporteur on the legislation, Dr Peter Liese MEP, said he considered it necessary to retable all the main amendments adopted in the first reading. “It has to be recognized that the first reading was already a compromise and that big parts of the plenary and, for example, the Environment Committee wanted to go much further.”
The main points of the draft recommendation and the Parliament’s differences with the Council are as described in the GreenAir Online article of April 21.
The most important divergence between the two bodies is the question of how the revenues generated by auctioning should be dealt with, says Liese in the report. “The Parliament supported the Commission proposal which gives a clear earmarking of the revenues and we added some substantial points to the proposal, like reducing taxes on environmental transport modes and investment in research for technology for clean aircraft. The Council ignored the amendment of the Parliament and explicitly stressed that no kind of earmarking will be accepted.
“I am fully aware of the political dimension of this question for the Finance Ministers. On the other hand, the Parliament’s position is more than justified for legal and political reasons.”
Liese outlined three reasons why he considers it necessary to retable Parliament’s first reading amendment on this issue:
1. If the money generated by auctioning goes to the national budgets without any earmarking and the third countries’ needs, e.g. for adaptation, are not addressed, it will be politically more difficult to get support from third countries for the EU’s climate policy.
2. If the result of the scheme is only an increase of the income for the Finance Ministers and those citizens that behave environmental-friendly, e.g. by using the bus or train instead of the plane, have no benefit, it is more difficult to justify the policy. Tax cuts on environmental-friendly transport modes would be crucial to convince citizens that we are not collecting money but supporting environmental activities.
3. The same logic applies for investment in research and technology for clean aircraft. The impression that the scheme mainly collects money for the Finance Ministers and does not address the real problem needs to be avoided.
The report says that all parties agree the final goal should be a “substantial” global agreement on reducing aviation GHG emissions and the EU needs to include other major countries “step by step”. Liese recommends the EU should engage in negotiations with the United States, accepting that progress is unlikely until after the November elections. “Also discussions with other third countries should be enforced to include more and more parties. This will increase the environmental effect and it will increasingly limit any kind of possible distortion of competition for European airlines, airports and regions.”
The Parliament and Council will now try to resolve their differences before the second reading in the Parliament in early July.
European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Draft Recommendation (Agenda No. 8)
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