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Nine EU countries call for European aviation tax to curb emissions

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By Reuters
Nine EU countries call for European aviation tax to curb emissions
FILE PHOTO: A plane is seen during sunrise at the international airport in Munich, Germany, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo   -   Copyright  Michaela Rehle(Reuters)

By Jonas Ekblom

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Nine European Union states have called on the bloc’s incoming executive Commission to introduce an EU-wide tax on aviation so as to charge a polluting industry more for its emissions and put all member states on level pegging.

In a letter to the EU’s executive in charge of climate, Frans Timmermans, the finance ministers of Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and five other EU states appealed for “some form of aviation tax” without giving specifics.

One of the largest countries behind the letter was Germany, which already levies its own aviation tax. Its finance minister, Olaf Scholz, told Reuters it might serve as a blueprint for an EU-wide aviation tax.

“The German aviation tax has proven itself. It can also be a model in the EU for more climate protection,” Scholz said.

The nine countries said an aviation tax where “the polluter pays a fairer price for the use of aviation transport” is necessary to combat climate change. Transportation is the only European sector currently increasing its emissions.

“Compared to most other means of transportation, aviation is not sufficiently priced,” the letter said, recounting all the perks currently enjoyed by the sector, including exceptions from excise duties and the fact that no VAT is levied on international flights.

Higher taxes on polluting industries have been hotly debated among EU states as the EU requires unanimity when deciding on policy, such as taxation.

Ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 are part of the agenda of the new European Commission.

In July, France announced a levy on airlines flying from its airports to help support the environment, a move that Air France said would significantly hurt its competitiveness and add over 60 million euros (£52 million) in additional costs per year.

One of the signatories of the letter, Sweden, introduced an aviation tax on its own in 2018 and another, the Netherlands, is planning to introduce one in 2020 unless an EU agreement is reached before then.

“By taking action now, we hope this important issue will take off in Europe too,” Menno Snel, the Netherlands’ finance minister said in a statement on Thursday.

(Reporting by Jonas Ekblom in Brussels with additional reporting by Christian Kraemer in Berlin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)