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Below you’ll find the latest roundup of mobility news from across Europe.
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The European Commission is set to do the previously unthinkable – tax aviation jet fuel.
Reversing a long-standing policy, the EU executive will apply an EU-wide minimum tax rate on fossil-based kerosene for flights travelling within the bloc.
Unlike almost all other fuels, aviation fuel has been spared from tax, largely thanks to an international aviation agreement signed in 1944 – the Chicago Convention.
But the World-War-II-era exemption is no longer “coherent with the present climate challenges and policies,” according to a leaked document seen by Reuters.
Penalising polluting aviation fuels – a move long called for by environmentalists – is part of the EU’s drive to boost the uptake of green jet fuel made from e-fuels or advanced biofuels.
Unsurprisingly, airline lobbies have condemned the move, with Airlines for Europe (A4E) warning it “could lead to a competitive distortion within Europe’s internal market and globally”.
“Climate policy regulation in the form of taxes is ecologically and economically counterproductive. It reduces the aviation industry’s capacity to invest and innovate whilst potentially shifting CO2 emissions to other regions, an effect known as carbon leakage,” A4E said in a statement.
The decision to tax fossil-based aviation fuels dovetails with the upcoming launch of “ReFuelEU Aviation”, a regulation mandating the use of sustainable aviation fuels for flights refuelling within the EU.
Read more at the link below.
Delta threat looms over travel certificate launch
The EU-wide COVID-19 certificate was launched across the bloc on 1 July, theoretically heralding easier travel across the EU.
The only exception to the roll-out is Ireland, whose health system was hit by a ransomware attack believed to be carried out by Russian cybercriminals. Dublin hopes to catch up with its EU counterparts by 19 July.
Those who have been vaccinated, have a negative COVID test, or have recently recovered from the virus can now avail of the certificate (see EURACTIV’s video explainer to learn more).
However, the Delta variant, a more infectious mutation of COVID, threatens to derail movement across the bloc.
The variant has already caused a spike in cases in Portugal, leading Germany to ban travellers from the country.
Read the full story below.
COVID weakened passengers’ rights, say EU auditors
Passengers who booked flights in the uncertain days of 2020 may recall the confusion surrounding the compensation available for cancellations. Some airlines initially offered cash refunds, before deciding to offer vouchers only.
This practice was contrary to passengers’ rights according to a report recently released by the EU Court of Auditors (ECA), an EU body that looks after the interests of citizens.
“While every effort has been made to support airlines and package-tour operators, far too little has been done to secure the rights of millions of people in the EU,” said Annemie Turtelboom, the ECA member responsible for the report.
The airline industry hit back against the report, calling it “disproportionate”.
“The fastest collapse in passenger demand in history meant it was impossible for airlines to comply with passenger rights rules which had never been designed for such a crisis,” wrote Rafael Schvartzman, the regional vice president for Europe of airline trade association IATA, in a blog post.
Read more below.
Alitalia edges closer to rebirth
Italy’s national airline Alitalia, well known for its litany of financial woes, will soon reorganise as Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) following approval from Brussels, Reuters reports.
Rome has pushed for ITA to be independent from its predecessor, thereby ensuring that it is not liable for the billions of euros in state aid pumped into the ailing Alitalia.
“Following intense and constructive discussions at all levels, the Commission and the Italian authorities have reached a common understanding on the key parameters to ensure economic discontinuity between ITA and Alitalia,” a Europen Commission spokesperson said.
The relaunched airline is expected to have less than half of Alitalia’s current aircraft fleet and significantly reduced staff numbers.
The European Commission has drafted plans to set an EU-wide minimum tax rate for polluting aviation fuels, as it seeks to meet more ambitious targets to fight climate change, a document seen by Reuters shows.
European airline passenger rights, which include carriers’ legal obligation to pay refunds for cancelled flights, have not been safeguarded during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an EU report released on Tuesday (29 June).
An EU-wide Covid certificate for easier travel came into force on Thursday (1 July), just in time for Europe’s busy summer vacation period, but the more-infectious Delta variant is already threatening to curtail its use.
The Netherlands is a world leader in EV charging infrastructure, thanks partly to their use of multipliers – a statistical method that encourages the use of renewable energy in transport. But the European Commission’s decision to eliminate multipliers for electricity will destroy the successful Dutch model, argues William Todts of clean mobility NGO T&E.
The truck manufacturing units of Volkswagen, Daimler and Volvo announced Monday (5 July) they will team up to build a network of 1,700 charging points for heavy-duty vehicles in Europe using green electricity.