Wednesday, August 3, 2011

EU over-reaches its authority and triggers global political backlash

Posted by- Neelam Mathews
Aug 3, 2011

As the deadline draws closer, the proposed inclusion of international aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), without the consent of foreign governments, has led to a growing barrage of objections given the draconian penalties threatened for any non-compliance. 

At the same time, foreign governments have repeatedly expressed their strong objections to the EU ETS being imposed unilaterally by the EU, in breach of international treaty obligations and bilateral aviation agreements. A number of foreign governments have called for their airlines to be exempt from the EU ETS, including US, China and India. 

A legal test case brought by a number of US carriers against the EU ETS in the UK, as the relevant administering authority, was referred to the European Court of Justice, with a hearing held on July 5. Initial findings expected in October, although a full judgment will probably not be available until sometime in 2012.

Commenting on the escalating political dispute, Association for Asia Pacific Aviation Director General, Andrew Herdman, said: “Foreign governments have long held the view that the inclusion of foreign airlines in the EU ETS, without the consent of foreign governments, breaches international treaty obligations and bilateral agreements governing international aviation.  More than 140 non-EU governments stated their unequivocal opposition to the unilateral imposition of the EU ETS at the two most recent triennial Assembly meetings of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 2007 and 2010."

The EU has said it would consider partial exemptions from the EU ETS if other governments introduce “equivalent measures”, acceptable to the EU, but has given no indications as to how such equivalence would be determined, or what processes might be involved. 

Herdman observed: "There is a certain irony in the fact that the EU insists that any such equivalent measures would need to be acceptable to the EU.  On the other hand, the EU has always insisted that other governments are not even entitled to express an opinion on the acceptability of the terms of the EU ETS.”

"The EU needs to face up to the fact that it has over-reached its authority, and must now fundamentally rethink its position.  Given the need for international consensus, combative legal challenges and threats of a tit-for-tat trade war are not the right way to resolve these matters.  The EU needs to urgently re-engage with the international community to find constructive solutions and avoid further escalation of the dispute.  Everyone acknowledges that ICAO is the appropriate UN forum for all governments to work together towards an effective multilateral agreement on a global approach to aviation and the environment," says Herdman.

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