BRUSSELS Oct 11 A European Union decision on
whether to include international flights in its scheme to curb
airline pollution will not come until next year at the earliest
after the bloc's executive has assessed a global deal which was
finally approved last week.
International flights have been exempted from the EU's
emissions trading system (ETS) since 2013 in an effort to avoid
a trade war and give the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) time to craft its agreement.
Europe wants a tougher regime than that agreed by ICAO
members, and has reserved the right to impose its own rules
rather than adopting the ICAO measures which curb pollution from
flights at 2020 levels.
"The Commission will early next year present a review to the
European Parliament and the (European) Council on the outcome we
reached at ICAO before deciding on the next steps," Henrik
Hololei, director general of the European Commission's transport
department, told a parliamentary committee.
While the EU exemption automatically runs out at the end of
the year, airlines will only have to surrender carbon emissions
allowances in the first quarter of 2018, meaning the EU has
until then to reach a final decision.
Hololei did not say whether the ICAO deal justified
extending the exemption. Any Commission proposal has to be
agreed by the European Parliament and member states in the
"The Commission will thoroughly assess the (ICAO) resolution
and consider what action to take with respect to the EU ETS," he
told EU lawmakers in the transport committee.
"Of course I would have wanted it to be more ambitious."
After the deal was announced Alexandre de Juniac, Director
General and chief executive of the International Air Transport
Association (IATA) said that it "ensures that the aviation
industry's economic and social contributions are matched with
cutting-edge efforts on sustainability."
But EU lawmakers have been critical of the deal, saying it
does not go far enough to reduce emissions from flights, but
have left open whether they could apply the EU scheme to foreign
"The EU should be welcoming of this deal, but cautious of
completely doing away with its own safeguards contained in the
EU ETS," Seb Dance, a lawmaker from the centre-left group, the
second-biggest in the Brussels legislature, told Reuters in an
email after the ICAO deal.
"The spirit we should go forward with is certainly one of
collaboration but the EU member states should retain the right
to move faster on tackling climate change when desired."
Law firm Reed Smith said it was more likely the EU would
extend the exemption post 2016 given the commitment of major
aviation states to take part in the ICAO offsetting scheme in
its first voluntary phase from 2021.
IATA did not immediately respond to questions about what the
ICAO deal would likely mean for the EU ETS exclusion for
(Additional reporting by Susanna Twidale in London; Editing by