Peter Liese: Airspace better than "Stop the Clock - But European Parliament will scrutinize the process very closely and discuss the controversies

On September 4, the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), met in Montreal to discuss ICAO’s policies regarding climate change. The Council is comprised of 36 ICAO member states. The Council adopted a text, which will now be considered by the ICAO Assembly of all members between September 24 – October 5.


Peter Liese, (EPP - Christian Democrats) the responsible rapporteur of the European Parliament for Aviation/ETS welcomed the recent developments: "Negotiations at ICAO are developing more positively than it seemed in July. Back then the negotiations had been tough and the proposals weren't acceptable for the European Union. But there has been development. Apparently, the USA and many African countries are now willing to compromise. The wording on the way towards an international agreement coming into force in 2020 is more precise and, importantly, a majority of states seems to have accepted by now that the EU ETS for aviation may be allowed to exist at all. The text allows the EU to cover all flights in EU airspace. This is better than the current Stop the Clock regulation as not only intra-European flights are included, but also flights to non-European third countries, although only for the part of the journey that they use European airspace. However, this is a very important point. For example, a flight from Frankfurt or London to the new hub of Istanbul would be almost completely covered. Under Stop the Clock it would not be covered at all. The same is true for flights to the hub airports in the Emirates, which are not covered under Stop the Clock. Under the new regulation, at least half the journey would be covered". But Liese also warned to be too optimistic: "Unfortunately, the compromise is not finalized yet, and we don't know how much the promise to work out an international agreement is actually worth. For that reason, the parliament will scrutinize the process very closely and discuss the controversies".

The most important point in the text adopted yesterday by the ICAO Council is that States are able to implement MBMs prior to the adoption of a global MBM, that include the portion of third party arrivals and departures that are within the airspace of that state or group of states. This means that the EU would only cover the portion of non-EU flights that occur within its airspace, adopting the territorial approach pushed by the US. Furthermore, a global MBM will be developed.

The inclusion of the regional airspace requirement for covering third party flights means that the aviation directive will need to be changed within the European Union. The EU passed the “Stop the Clock” law last year to exempt all non-EU flights. The original directive covered all EU and non-EU flights, and for non-EU flights it covered the entire length of the flight, not just within European airspace. Once “stop the clock” expires, in 2014, the aviation directive should enter back into force. Therefore, the law will need to be amended to exclude the portion of non-EU flights that occur outside European airspace from a compliance obligation under the EU ETS.