EU legislation on aviation emission allowances will cover only intra-EU flights until the start of 2017, but will apply to all flights to or from the EU thereafter, says an informal agreement reached by MEPs and the Council Presidency on Tuesday. The legislation would also require EU member states to report on how they spend revenue from auctioning emission allowances.

“The negotiations have been very difficult, but in the end, we succeeded. For the environment, this deal is better than the Council position, but also better than the Commission proposal”, said lead MEP Peter Liese (EPP, DE) on Wednesday.

“The main element of compromise concerns the scope. The Emissions Trading System will again apply in full after 2016. Parliament could not accept the Council’s wish to ‘stop the clock’ until 2020. We have the next International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assembly in 2016, and if it fails to deliver a global agreement, then nobody could justify our maintaining such an exemption for another four years” he added.

MEPs were also concerned about failures to enforce the current ETS legislation. "Before negotiations started, we pointed out that the "stop the clock" legislation is not yet enforced by all member states. In particular, certain airlines from third countries were not asked to pay for their intra-EU flight emissions. This has changed, and it is very good news", noted Mr Liese.

Clarity on how ETS auction revenues are spent

In negotiations, MEPs also secured provisions requiring member states to report on how they spend revenues from ETS allowance auctions.

“A frequent criticism is that the money we are generating by auctioning goes into the pockets of finance ministers, and that the spending of the money has nothing to do with climate change purposes. In the new legislation, the uses to which this money is put will be made transparent, as member states will have to report on how it is spent”, said Mr Liese.

“Political groups still have to confirm that text”

“This is an acceptable compromise, but Parliament’s political groups still have to confirm the negotiated text” said S&D shadow rapporteur and Environment Committee Chair Matthias Groote (S&D, DE).

"We do not yet know whether we will get a majority in Parliament. There is also the question of the timing: if we don’t agree by April, we will automatically fall back upon the previous legislation” he added.

Grosch: “An international agreement in 2016 is the best solution”

“The outcome is broadly in line with the view of the Transport Committee, in particular due to the fact that we now have a real possibility until 2016 to reach an international agreement which is both economically and ecologically the best solution” said Transport Committee rapporteur Mathieu Grosch (EPP, BE).


The ICAO agreed at its 38th assembly to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM) in 2016, to be implemented by 2020. In response, and in order to further promote the global MBM momentum, the European Commission proposed to reduce the proportion of emissions (from flights to and from countries outside the EU) to which the EU ETS applies for the period up to 2020, when the global MBM begins.