EU ETS: More Controversy ... this Time over Switzerland


The inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), once again, stirred up emotions and almost caused another international brawl, this time with neighbour Switzerland.

It appears that the European Commission, more specifically the civil servants working for the directorate general Climate Action, were a bit overzealous in their definition of European Union and “closely connected areas with a shared commitment to tackle climate change” when drafting the stop the clock proposal. The Commission included Switzerland in the scope of the “closely connected areas with a shared commitment to tackle climate change”.  

In its legislative proposal, the Commission describes the geographical scope of the aviation EU ETS moratorium as follows: “flights to or from aerodromes in countries outside the European Union that are not members of EFTA [European Free Trade Association i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland], dependencies and territories of EEA member states [European Economic Area i.e. EU plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein] or countries having signed a treaty of accession with the Union [Croatia]”.

Members of the European Parliament’s transport and environment committees astutely queried why the EC determined that the EU ETS will continue to apply to intra-EFTA traffic while only EFTA states which are also members of EEA have agreed to incorporate the aviation directive in their national legislation,  i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway -- but not Switzerland.

Switzerland was not pleased -- to say the least -- with the EC’s unilateral decision to expand the legal relevance of the proposal from EEA to EFTA, sources tell Aviation Week.  

“Switzerland is raising the issue with the competent authorities of the EU in order to resolve the issue,” a spokesman for Mission of Switzerland to the European Union confirms. The country’s Transport Minister Leuthard wrote to EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard to ask for explanation, especially on the legal basis, to this decision. Switzerland is negotiating with the EU on linking the respective ETS systems. The negotiations cover both, the stationary installations and aviation. “As long as there is no agreement on this linking, Switzerland is a third country (outside of EU) and Switzerland should be treated accordingly,” the spokesperson stresses.

Also Lufthansa, which fully owns Swiss International Air Lines, is protesting the EC’s decision to exclude Switzerland from the derogation and is reportedly considering legal steps.  

To be followed.

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