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Texts adopted
Thursday, 14 December 2000 - Strasbourg Final edition
Taxation of aircraft fuel
A5-0334/2000

European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on taxation of aircraft fuel (COM(2000) 110 - C5-0207/2000 - 2000/2114(COS) )

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2000) 110 - C5-0207/2000 ),

-  having regard to the Commission communication 'Air Transport and the environment - towards meeting the challenges of sustainable development' (COM(1999) 640 ),

-  having regard to the proposal for a Council Directive 'Restructuring the Community Framework for the Taxation of Energy Products' (COM(1997) 30 )(1) and its opinion of 9 February 1999 thereon(2) ,

-  having regard to the report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament under Article 8(6) of Council Directive 92/81/EEC , on the situation with regard to the exemptions or reductions for specific policy considerations as set out in Article 8(4) of Directive 92/81/EEC and concerning the obligatory exemption of mineral oils used as fuel for the purpose of air navigation other than private pleasure flying and the exemptions or reductions possible for navigation on inland waterways other than for private pleasure craft as set out in Articles 8(1)(b) and 8(2)(b) of the same directive (COM(1996) 549 ) and its opinion of 13 June 1997 thereon(3) ,

-  having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

-  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (A5-0334/2000 ),

A.  whereas air traffic is expected to continue to increase significantly over the next few years,

B.  whereas adequate measures must be found as fast as possible to limit the negative impact of this increase on the environment,

C.  whereas these measures must promote environmental protection while respecting fair competition and the proper functioning of the internal market,

D.  whereas at this stage introduction of a tax on aircraft fuel would, due to legal constraints, be possible only for intra-Community flights operated by Community air carriers, but would benefit the environment and result in net reductions of CO2,

E.  whereas if the airline industry is left to expand without restriction, most of the reductions in greenhouse gases expected to be achieved by other industries in the next few years under the Kyoto Protocol would be countered by increases in CO2 from aviation,

F.  Whereas air transport enjoys preferential treatment, e.g. as regards excise duties or VAT, compared with other modes of transport and whereas, for the sake of coherence of the tax system and environmental concerns, this positive discrimination must be ended,

1.  Welcomes the Commission's communication and the study it is based upon as a valuable contribution to addressing the environmental problems associated with air transport;

2.  Considers, however, that the Commission should have devoted more of its communication to analysing the environmental impact of a tax on aircraft fuel;

3.  Is alarmed at aviation's growing share of global greenhouse gas emissions; considers it to be of the utmost importance that measure be taken to limit emissions from aviation;

4.  Stresses that the use of economic instruments in this context is crucial for encouraging progress towards a cleaner airspace both in the Member States and in the applicant countries, as well as in the rest of the world; regards this as a more effective method than traditional legislation;

5.  Considers that the current situation whereby there is no requirement to pay tax on aviation fuel worldwide constitutes unfair treatment of other modes of transport and is thus not in keeping with the objective of equality of opportunity between all modes of transport;

6.  Notes the Commission's conclusion that, principally for economic reasons, it would not be immediately practicable for the Community as a whole to introduce taxation of aircraft fuel exclusively targeting intra-Community flights operated by Community air carriers;

7.  Agrees with the Commission's interpretation of the study's findings whereby a specific tax in the Community would have benefits for the environment and yield net reductions in CO2 emissions;

8.  Considers that, as far as the issue of greenhouse gas abatement is concerned, relatively minor measures can never be regarded as insignificant, especially in a fast-growing sector, which is why the Commission's communication indicates that the Council ought to agree on common excise duties on aircraft fuel in the Union;

9.  Welcomes the Commission's recommendation to permit Member States to levy tax on aviation fuel for domestic flights or, via bilateral agreements, on intra-Community flights, which is compatible with the findings of the study; emphasises that revenues accruing from such a measure would allow Member States to reduce other taxes, notably those on labour as recommended in Article 1 of the Commission proposal for the taxation of energy products;

10.  Points out that excise duty on aircraft fuel fits in perfectly with the principle of green taxes;

11.  Points out that measures in this sector may not unduly endanger the competitiveness of European air carriers with regard to air carriers from third countries;

12.  Urges immediate measures to reduce the environmental impact of aviation and to create a more level playing field by making aviation subject to the same 5% greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as other sectors under the Kyoto treaty and an environmental charge to be introduced on flights to and from EU airports;

13.  Stresses that the adverse socio-economic effects of excise duty on aviation fuel must be minimised; calls therefore on the Council to prepare for renegotiation of the bilateral agreements governing the treatment of aviation fuel and to examine how transport, both within the Union and to and from third countries, might be brought within the scope of such a tax regime; also calls on the Council to work energetically to ensure that a compromise is reached on the treatment of aviation fuel at the ICAO's 33rd Assembly in 2001;

14.  Calls on the Council Presidency and the Commission to keep Parliament fully informed about the 33rd ICAO Assembly in 2001; calls on the Presidency and the Commission to state before the Assembly what the EU's input will be, and, after it has finished, to report to Parliament on the work of the Assembly and its results, particularly with regard to excise duty on aircraft fuel;

15.  Urges the Commission to submit a communication on proposals for internal EU measures if no satisfactory measures are taken by the ICAO at the 33rd Assembly next year;

16.  Urges the Commission to press for a renegotiation of the 1944 Chicago Convention and the bilateral Air Service Agreements (ASAs), which fix the exemption from taxes for fuel supplied on the territory of the contracting parties;

17.  Is of the opinion that other measures to reduce CO2 emissions from air transport should also be urgently envisaged, such as emissions trading schemes, voluntary agreements by the air transport industry, research and development programmes for technological improvement of engines and fuel, differentiated environmental levies, the drawing-up of environmental contracts and better management of air traffic, and that these should include clear targets and monitoring procedures with penalties to safeguard fair competition in the internal market;

18.  Calls on the Commission to undertake a study analysing these alternative solutions;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1) OJ C 139, 6.5.1997, p. 14.
(2) OJ C 150, 28.5.1999, p. 82.
(3) OJ C 200, 30.6.1997, p. 249.

Last updated: 2 June 2004Legal notice