Fuelling a European recovery: Time to end aviation fuel tax exemption

(EurActiv, 26 Apr 2021) For years, EU countries have allowed airlines to avoid paying tax on polluting jet fuels. With the climate crisis escalating, it’s time for the EU to put an end to this tax exemption, write Ciarán Cuffe, Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Claude Gruffat, and Tilly Metz.

The authors are members of the European Parliament affiliated with the Greens/EFA Group.

There isn’t a family, organisation or business that the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected. Across Europe, we have seen a devastatingly high death toll, the hardships and struggles that come from repeated lockdowns, as well as the financial impact. But with the vaccine roll-out, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As Europe slowly starts to open up again and travel resumes across the continent, we need to ensure that the European recovery is sustainable and fair. Understandably, people are anxious to return to some form of normality. However, that normality cannot continue to include parts of our economy which are harmful to both people and the planet.

One such area is aviation, where, for too long, the industry has been allowed to pollute largely for free. Under current EU legislation on energy taxation, member states can and do exempt airlines from paying tax on the fuel they burn for international flights. This means that despite the escalating climate crisis, airlines emit damaging greenhouse gas emissions for free.

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EurActiv, 26 Apr 2021: Fuelling a European recovery: Time to end aviation fuel tax exemption