The year’s longest day is almost with us. This week, for the first time in a while, The UK’s Brexit is not a major topic at a European Union (EU) summit. Now, the new European Parliament (EP) is in place there’s much discussion about the big jobs that need filling. In the EU, a new team of European Commissioners is appointed every 5-years. Appointing the President and the College of Commissioners is one of the issues concentrating minds in Brussels and across Europe.
Today’s European Commissioners will be leave office on 31 October 2019. Coincidentally, that’s the date the UK is supposed to be leaving the EU. It’s impossible to say if that will happen, not even with the remaining candidates for UK Prime Minister saying; that they still wish to leave. The words of Donald Tusk, warning the UK to stop wasting time still echo around the room.
It’s worth noting that the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU will be replaced by the Finland’s Presidency at the end of the month. This is interesting given that Finland held parliamentary elections in April this year. The new Government of Finland was appointed on 6 June. So, there’s not much time to prepare an agenda for their term but I feel certain Climate Change will be high on the list of issues.
Potentially, that means a lot more talk about EU policies that promote sustainable and “smart” mobility. In one direction, exhibited at the Paris Air Show are a horde of new electric propulsion systems for aircraft. In another direction, policies include the introduction of an aviation tax at EU level and a carbon floor price. No doubt this subject is going to be highly controversial. The call for Net Zero emissions by 2050 is a major strategic shift for Europe.
Today, not all EU Countries have a flight tax, like the UK. It’s a tax on a ticket. Unfortunately, that ticket tax is not used to mitigate the environmental impacts of flying. Aviation taxes, such as fuel taxes or ticket taxes, do have an impact on the economy. If there’s not strong coordination and cooperation in the design of an aviation tax at EU level, then the danger of exporting jobs is real in what’s an international business.
Some studies do suggest that an aviation tax is not effective in reducing CO2 emissions. However, there’s a great deal to be debated and investigated on this key subject. I cannot believe the UK will not have a strong interest in the direction that the EU chooses to take on aviation taxes. Naturally, it would be better if the UK was part of the decision-making process but leaving the EU with “No-Deal” rules that out completely.