Nine countries call on EU Commission for a flight tax
On the initiative of the Netherlands, nine EU countries are calling on the European Commission to draw up a legislative proposal for a European air passenger tax.
“In comparison with other means of transport, aviation is insufficiently taxed,” the Finance ministers of Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Bulgaria, together with the Netherlands, state.
The nine countries point out that aviation is responsible for 2,5% of global CO2 emissions, but “the sector is exempt from excise duties, there is no VAT on international flights, there is no coordinated tax on tickets and economic instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector can be strengthened.”
The signed joined declaration has been handed over to the European Commissioner, Frans Timmermans. The Dutch EU politician promised that the new Commission would “take the matter on board” as soon as it takes office, scheduled for 1 December.
Timmermans will then be responsible for European climate and environmental policy. He said he wholeheartedly agreed that aviation should be taxed in the same way as other transport sectors.
Uneven playing field
Arranging an air passenger tax at the EU level will not be that easy because of the 1944 Chicago aviation convention, which agreed on a tax exemption for aircraft fuel. At the time, countries wanted to stimulate the nascent global air traffic.
However, because flying, unlike cars, buses or trains, is not taxed in any way, it is often much cheaper in Europe today to catch an airplane than the train, which is much more environmentally friendly.
The nine Member States have left open how aviation should be taxed, for example through a surcharge on a ticket or through a kerosene tax. But the principle must be that the polluter pays for the consequences of global CO2 emissions, noise, and air pollution from aviation.
They do, however, ask the Commission to take account of existing national regulations and the competitive position of the sector.
7 euro tax per ticket
By 2021, the Netherlands will introduce a national flight tax on tickets and on freight for all destinations if there is no European tax yet. Passenger flights will then be subject to a 7 euro tax per ticket, which the airline will or will not be able to pass on to its customers.
From that year onward, airfreight will also be taxed on the basis of the amount of noise nuisance and per ton of freight weight. The Hague hopes that the flight tax will raise 200 million euros and limit the environmental damage.
The bill to this effect is in the Lower House of Parliament, which intends to discuss it this year. This national air passenger tax will, of course, be abolished if earlier European agreements are made about a tax on flights.
According to the Dutch State Secretary, Menno Snel, who handed over the signed joint declaration for a tax to Frans Timmermans on Thursday in Brussels, the Chicago Convention can be circumvented through bilateral agreements with the other European Member States.
Fuel refueled in the EU can then be taxed, but not the kerosene that is still in the tank when an aircraft lands. For the moment, seven European countries impose taxes on airline tickets. In the European Union, a passenger pays an average tax of 11 euros, in the US this is 15,04 euros and in Australia 40,28 euros.
Menno Snel, as a member of the social-liberal D66, does not rule out the possibility that he will soon be making a case for shipping tax at a European level as well. Cruise and transport ships, for example, also have a kind of international tax exemption.