Twenty six countries including Canada, United States, Brazil, China and India are vehemently opposing the European Union’s unilateral move to impose aviation fuel fees on airliners flying over its air space in an attempt to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Canada has vowed to aggressively oppose this policy, stating that it will cost its airline industry billions of dollars and potentially trigger an international trade war, which even many airline companies within the EU fear will be the case.
Nevertheless, the EU is standing firm on its decision and has been successfully granted the right by the European Court of Justice to impose a 15% fee on all airlines for 2012 which will rise to 18% between 2013 to 2020.
Canada’s Transport Minister Denis Lebel has stated, “At this time of economic uncertainty, actions should not come at the price of international aviation, which plays such an important role in all our economies,” and has conveyed these sentiments in a letter he had written to the EU’s vice-president Slim Kallas urging for an international solution reached through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
But the challenges that have been put forth by both Canada and the United States have been rejected by the European Court of Justice thus far. Action plans from ICAO members is expected in June persisting in its claims that charging non-EU planes flying in EU airspace is, “illegal under international law because emissions produced in international airspace over high seas, that territory does not belong to the EU.”
The European Court of Justice disagrees and defended the EU’s approach as valid stating,“it neither infringes the principles of customary international law at issue nor the Open Skies Agreement covering trans-Atlantic flights.”