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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will put on hold its rule that all airlines must pay for their emissions on flights to and from Europe, but will resume enforcement if a U.N. airline body fails to deliver a global deal, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.
EU airlines will still have to pay for their carbon emissions under existing rules and EU member states will still have to formally endorse the Commission's exemption for non-EU carriers, Hedegaard said.
She added that she had informed representatives of the 27 member states of the Commission's plan.
The European Union has come under intense international pressure to tear up its law making all airlines using EU airports buy carbon allowances on its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The Commission, the EU's executive, has repeatedly said it will only change its rules if the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) can agree an alternative scheme to help curb rising airline emissions.
"To create a positive atmosphere, we have agreed to stop the clock," Hedegaard told a news briefing on Monday.
"If this exercise ends in nothing, we are back to exactly where we were with the EU ETS automatically," she said, adding that this would give the U.N. airlines body, the ICAO, until next November to strike a new deal.
The Commission has repeatedly said it only put its law in place after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO.
"Nobody wants an international framework on aviation more than we do," Hedegaard said. "For the first time in years a global deal should be in reach."
Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Rex Merrifield