EU lawyer: Foreign airlines to pay aviation emissions
Oct 6, 2011, 17:38 GMT
Luxembourg - The European Union's decision to extend its emissions trading scheme to foreign airlines is legal, an official from the bloc's highest court ruled on Thursday, weighing into a legal challenge by US airlines.
In a bid to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the EU wants all airlines taking off and landing on its territory to acquire permits for the right to pollute, starting from next year.
The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), complaining that such unilateral action violates international and EU-US aviation agreements, appealed before an English court, which turned to the EU Court of Justice for an opinion.
Juliane Kokott, an Advocate General for the court, rejected ATA's arguments, finding that 'the EU emissions trading scheme is compatible with the provisions and principles of international law invoked.'
EU officials say they decided on the measure after attempts to create a global aviation emission scheme failed at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), partly due to US opposition.
EU Climate Change Commissioner Connie Hedegaard welcomed Kokott's legal opinion and said the bloc wanted 'to engage constructively with third countries during the implementation of this legislation.'
A senior US official said his country would continue fighting the EU plan.
'We, along with several other states, intend to continue to press our European partners to exclude non-EU air carriers ... and instead work with us in the International Civil Aviation Organization,' said US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transport Krishna R Urs.
Advocate generals give a preliminary, non-binding opinion on cases handled by the EU court. The Luxembourg-based body generally follows their findings in its rulings.