23. April 2021

Letter to European Council to end tax exemption for aviation fuel

Green New DealParlamentarische Aktivitäten

Call to the European Commission to propose an end to the tax exemption for aviation fuel in its revision of the Energy Taxation Directive

Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age: Margrethe Vestager
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal: Frans Timmermans
European Commissioner for Economy: Paulo Gentiloni
European Commissioner for Transport: Adina Vălean

Dear Executive Vice-Presidents,
Dear Commissioners,

We hope you are keeping safe and well.

The past year has been very difficult for EU citizens and businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic has upended our way of life. The transport system has been particularly hard hit, and so many transport operators in the EU have seen their passenger numbers drop precipitously. As the vaccine rollout picks up pace, we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. We have a long way to go yet, but now is the time to plan for a socially, ecologically and environmentally just recovery. For such a recovery, our transport system is in need of reform. Particularly when it comes to ensuring that we meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, we cannot return to business as usual.

A crucial issue is taxation. Despite being a fundamental pillar of EU law, not all transport operators pay for the pollution they produce. Aviation produces the highest CO2 emissions per passenger km travelled, yet there is no taxation at EU level on the fuel that is responsible for these emissions. The Energy Taxation Directive, which is due to be revised this year, allows Member States to exempt airlines from tax on fuel for intra-EU flights. Such an exemption is a fossil fuel subsidy that undermines the polluter pays principle and the Commission’s goal to internalise external costs (as set out in its Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy), the European Green Deal, fair competition between transport modes and efforts to make aviation more sustainable.

Ending this exemption is therefore a matter of fairness. EU consumers and businesses large and small all pay tax on the fuel they use. While we must continue to support all transport modes in their recovery from the effects of Covid-19 and be conscious of the difficulties faced by remote and peripheral regions, we must also recognise that this exemption undermines the EU’s environmental goals given aviation’s impact on the climate. It is also additional to other supports the sector enjoys that similarly undermine the polluter pays principle: free allowances under the Emissions Trading System, a lack of regulation of the non-CO2 effects of aviation and no taxation on tickets for intra-EU flights. We must fully enshrine the polluter pays principle and fair competition in EU law if we are to deliver on the European Green Deal.

It is for this reason that we are calling on the European Commission to propose an end to the tax exemption for aviation fuel in its revision of the Energy Taxation Directive and with it set an effective minimum EU-wide tax rate on the fuel that should come into effect without delay. A study commissioned by the European Commission found that such a tax would have no net impact on jobs, would reduce emissions, and would lead to increased government expenditure, or lower taxes and increased spending in the economy.

We sincerely hope therefore that, in line with previous supportive statements on this issue made by members of the College of Commissioners, you will end this anachronistic tax exemption and help put Europe on the path to a more socially, ecologically and environmentally just recovery.

We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Alice Kuhnke, Greens/EFA Member
Alviina Alametsä, Greens/EFA Member
Anna Cavazzini, Greens/EFA Member
Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Greens/EFA Member
Aurore Lalucq, S&D Member
Bas Eickhout, Greens/EFA Member
Benoît Biteau, Greens/EFA Member
Caroline Roose, Greens/EFA Member
Christel Schaldemose, S&D Member
Ciarán Cuffe, Greens/EFA Member
Clare Daly, GUE/NGL Member
Claude Gruffat, Greens/EFA Member
Cornelia Ernst, GUE/NGL Member
Damien Carême, Greens/EFA Member
Daniel Freund, Greens/EFA Member
David Cormand, Greens/EFA Member
Dorien Rookmaker, Member
Eleonora Evi, Greens/EFA Member
Ernest Urtasun, Greens/EFA Member
Francisco Guerreiro, Greens/EFA Member
François Alfonsi, Greens/EFA Member
Frédérique Ries, Renew Europe Member
Grace O’Sullivan, Greens/EFA Member
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Green/EFA Member
Henrike Hahn, Greens/EFA Member
Ignazio Corrao, Greens/EFA Member
Jakop G. Dalunde, Greens/EFA Member
Jordi Solé, Greens/EFA Member
Jutta Paulus, Greens/EFA Member
Karima Delli, Greens/EFA Member
Karin Karlsbro, Renew Europe Member
Katrin Langensiepen, Greens/EFA Member
Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Greens/EFA Member
Leila Chaibi, GUE/NGL Member
Manu Pineda, GUE/NGL Member
Margrete Auken, Greens/EFA Member
Marianne Vind, S&D Member
Marie Toussaint, Greens/EFA Member
Martin Buschmann, Member
Martin Häusling, Greens/EFA Member
Manon Aubry, GUE/NGL Member
Manuela Ripa, Greens/EFA Member
Michael Bloss, Greens/EFA Member
Michèle Rivasi, Greens/EFA Member
Mick Wallace, GUE/NGL Member
Monika Vana, Greens/EFA Member
Mounir Satouri, Greens/EFA Member
Niels Fuglsang, S&D Member
Niklas Nienaß, Greens/EFA Member
Nikolaj Villumsen, GUE/NGL Member
Özlem Demirel, GUE/NGL Member
Paul Tang, S&D Member
Pär Holmgren, Greens/EFA Member
Pascal Durand, Renew Europe Member
Philippe Lamberts, Greens/EFA Member
Piernicola Pedicini, Greens/EFA Member
Pierre Larrouturou, S&D Member
Rasmus Andresen, Greens/EFA Member
Reinhard Bütikofer, Greens/EFA Member
Rosa D’Amato, Greens/EFA Member
Salima Yenbou, Greens/EFA Member
Sara Matthieu, Greens/EFA Member
Sira Rego, GUE/NGL Member
Sylwia Spurek, Greens/EFA Member
Sven Giegold, Greens/EFA Member
Tanja Fajon, S&D Member
Terry Reintke, Greens/EFA Member
Tiemo Wölken, S&D Member
Tilly Metz, Greens/EFA Member
Vera Tax, S&D Member
Ville Niinistö, Greens/EFA Member
Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, Greens/EFA Member
Yannick Jadot, Greens/EFA Member