Tariff troubles, ICAO irritant & Commission Cribs

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It was a rough week for Airbus, after the EU lost a decade-long dispute with the US at the WTO over subsidies to the aerospace firm. The volume of the tariffs is a record amount.

EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström told us in interview that there isn’t much hope of avoiding the levies before they come into force later this month. She warned that Donald Trump’s administration is “unpredictable”.

Brussels appeared to retaliate though, opening an antitrust inquest into the proposed tie-up between Boeing and Brazilian plane-builder Embraer. The Commission said it’s concerned the merger would remove vital competition from the sector.

At the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s general assembly, plans to set up a global emissions offsetting scheme provoke controversy over its effectiveness and impact on regional efforts like the EU’s trading system.

Our article prompted a reply from the Commission, which insists the CORSIA system will not ground the bloc’s ETS. NGOs, however, refute that the offsetting scheme is free of issues.

Supersonic commercial aircraft could be due a revival. The US and Russia want more lenient standards to bring them back, while Europe is pushing for the new wave of ‘Concordes’ to meet the same criteria normal planes do.

NASA is getting in on the aviation development race too: it is trialling an electric plane in an effort to get ahead of future trends and set standards before the tech becomes ubiquitous. 

There is an unusual link between electric vehicles and space policy, and it involves prospecting satellites. The EU’s dreams of dominating the battery market could hinge on finding raw materials at home using eyes in the sky. Read more here.

EU environment ministers fudged attempts to update an overall climate target but Denmark did propose a novel idea: a bloc-wide strategy to phase out petrol and diesel cars or at least measures that allow member states to ban their sale.

Still no confirmation on Hungary or Romania’s Commissioner candidate replacements. Rumours circulate that Ursula von der Leyen could switch their portfolios, giving Budapest transport and Bucharest enlargement. More when we know it.

In more technical news, a first round of talks on the Mobility Package 1 wrapped up. Transport chief Violeta Bulc said everyone around the table had shown a “clear commitment” to a solution.

Commission services announced that funding worth nearly €1 billion is on its way to Poland in order to upgrade its rail network. Improved safety and air quality are two of the main objectives.

Brussels traffic might be even worse than we thought, after von der Leyen announced she would set up home on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont, in part, to avoid the morning rush. Here’s a fictional telling of what might await her in those haunted hallways…

What else I’m reading

  • Hydrogen could power this superyacht [CNN]
  • Electric cars prompt calls for road tax [Guardian]
  • California to put clean trucks in the fast lane [CleanTechnica]
  • Air travel growth: ‘sustainable’ & ‘development not compatible [Euractiv]

Next stops

Ursula von der Leyen will have to confirm her two empty Commissioner slots and which jobs the candidates will hold. A final Parliament vote is scheduled for 23 October.

The next transport committee meeting will be on 6 November.

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