Parliament's Transport Committee voiced deep concern on Tuesday over the threat of retaliation actions against European airlines if the EU continues implementing the new carbon trading scheme for flights departing and arriving in the EU. While some MEPs recommended abolishing the scheme, others feared a total loss of credibility if the EU gave in to threats from third countries. Later, In an Environment Committee debate on Thursday, most MEPs urged the Commission to stand by the scheme.
"We will not allow any discriminatory retaliation action to happen", European Commission Director General for Climate Action Jos Delbeke told the Transport Committee on Tuesday morning with regard to a declaration signed last week by 23 countries (including the US, China, India, and Russia), calling for a suspension of the EU scheme in force since 1 January.
Mr Delbeke said that the Commission continues to favour a global solution provided it is non-discriminatory, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than the EU scheme would and includes clear targets and measurements. If an international agreement is reached by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), no later than April 2013, the EU scheme could be amended by Parliament and the Council.
Mathieu Grosch (EPP, BE), and Said El Khadraoui (S&D, BE); wondered what the Commission's "plan B" would be, if no global agreement were reached or if it did not meet EU requirements.
Gesine Meißner (ALDE, DE), advocated stepping up talks with opponents, while Eva Lichtenberger (Greens, AT), said she did not expect the ICAO to come up with any better greenhouse gas reduction system. Jacqueline Foster (ECR, UK), criticized the scheme as an illegal - and fruitless - attempt to impose taxes on third countries which would end up reducing the competitiveness of EU airlines.
At a further debate in the Environment Committee on Thursday, most MEPs expressed support for the European Commission. "Some myths need to be dispelled... this is a huge discussion but not a huge financial burden", said Parliament's rapporteur on the topic Peter Liese (EPP, DE), with reference to the very small ETS costs involved compared to existing taxes.
"This is a tangible measure for climate protection... we should stand firm", said Environment Committee chair Matthias Groote, adding that the ICAO had failed to take action in 20 years.
To review the debates, click Video on Demand link to the right.