June 10th, 2019
A group of European citizens is hoping to gain one million signatures for a petition calling for an end to tax exemption for aviation fuel within the EU.
The petition calls on the European Commission to introduce a “regressive tax” on aviation fuel that would impose higher tax on short flights where alternative transport options are readily available.
The petition is a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), an official petition system that gives European citizens the right to recommend EU legislation to the European Commission.
To be successful, an ECI has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least seven out of the 28 member states within 12 months of its launch. In Ireland, around 8,250 Irish signatories are required.
A recent leaked report commissioned by the European Commission suggests that the EU’s aviation industry is “chronically” undertaxed, especially compared to non-European markets.
The report leaked to the Brussel-based group Transport and Environment (T&E) also shows that higher taxation on aviation fuel within the EU would cut emissions by at least 10 per cent, increase revenue for the bloc and still keep the health of the economy intact.
The reduction in carbon emissions through kerosene taxation would be equivalent to removing almost 8 million cars from our roads, according to T&E.
Compared to countries including the US, Australia, Brazil and China, Europe remains significantly tax-friendly for the aviation industry, according to the report.
An EU Directive exempts airlines from having to pay tax on commercial aircraft fuel, although fuel can be taxed for domestic aviation subject to a bilateral agreement among member states.
None of the 28 Member States have agreed to increase taxation on kerosene or gas oil fuel since 2003, while the likes of Canada and Japan and Armenia have upped their kerosene tax.
The young organisers of the new petition have said that tax exemption is partly to blame for the 21 per cent increase in EU aviation emissions over the past three years which exceeds rises in any other emission source within the EU.
Earlier in April, Ryanair was named among the EU’s top 10 carbon emitters by T&E, the first airline to enter their list which traditionally features fossil fuel power plants.
A spokesperson for Ryanair dismissed the NGO survey, telling The Irish Times that the company was one of Europe’s “greenest and cleanest”.
Calling on the public to support for ECI, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) said that the environment pays a hefty price for our cheap air travel tickets.
“Plane ticket prices are very attractive only because of the unjustified tax advantages for the aviation industry,” according to FIE, who previously raised a legal challenge to the expansion of Dublin airport.
“Train tickets remain considerably more expensive, giving the aviation sector a competitive advantage, which undermines our emission reduction objectives.”