Battle to avoid the green tax

Passengers get off a plane at Lanzarote airport. / C7

debate in the EU

The European Parliament votes on Monday a socialist amendment so that flights between the Canary Islands and third countries do not pay the CO2 emission tax

Loreto Gutierrez

There is a long way to go for the Canary Islands to achieve
full exemptionhe of the
green rate with which the EU is going to tax carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in air and maritime transport from 2023, but as Socialist MEP Juan Fernando warns
Lopez Aguilarit is advisable to 'stay on guard' until the last moment, because in the European Parliament nothing is decided until it is approved.

The European Parliament will vote tomorrow, June 6, on an amendment to the Community Directive on Emission Rights Trading that penalizes the
use of keroseneso that the archipelago is exempt from the ecological tax in air connections with
third countries due to its status as an ultraperipheral region (RUP), as claimed by the Canarian Government.

The opposite would be an important
price increase of air tickets to the islands from European countries, with serious consequences for the tourism sector.

The connections between the Canary Islands and the
peninsula are already exempt from the beginning in the directive itself, which establishes that the ecological tax is not applicable to aircraft operators on the emissions that are produced
until 2030 on flights 'between an aerodrome situated in an outermost region of a Member State and an aerodrome situated in the same Member State outside that outermost region'.

The Canarian Government already had the
Prior commitment of the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms,
Elizabeth Ferreiraofdo not apply the green rate between the ORs and their respective state territories.

The European Parliament votes on Monday the community directive that taxes kerosene. /


Initially, the regulation endorsed on May 16 by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, which is going to plenary session tomorrow, did not contemplate any exemption for
inter-island routesbut during the processing, a commitment from Brussels was achieved to exempt them also, at the request of the Canarian Government through the Ministry of Finance, in application of a 2008 directive that exempts flights made by
Public Service Obligation (OSP) within the same outermost region. One more step that gave a breather.

A lot more
complicated has been to prepare the ground so that the islands can be freed from the eco-tax -if the amendment is finally approved- when it comes to air connections with
third countries. A few weeks ago, the Canarian government recognized the difficulty of leaving the archipelago out of European routes in the face of the EU's efforts to apply the tax to all flights to reduce the carbon footprint and fight against climate change.

The possibility that the green tax will be imposed with third countries has triggered alarms among
tourism entrepreneurswho recall the importance of air connectivity for the Canarian economy, which is highly dependent on accommodation activity linked to tourism -the sector generates 40% of direct employment and almost 80% if indirect employment is added-, and warn that the
deterrent effect that it would have to penalize the use of the plane through the green rate "would condemn the economy of the islands to collapse."

The Brussels green strategy seeks to discourage the use of fossil fuels with the aim of reducing by 55%
greenhouse gases in 2030 and 100% in 2050. Despite the strong reluctance of the EU to authorize new exceptions to the green tax, in the final stretch of the processing of the regulation on emission rights, the PSOE MEP
Lopez Aguilar obtained a pre-agreement to amend the directive and exempt air and sea connections between the Canary Islands and any territory within the European economic area from the green tax until 2030, in addition to the routes with the peninsula and inter-islands that were already insured.

In the negotiations on the EU climate action package, López Aguilar achieved the
40 signatures necessary to present the amendment in which it demands that the vulnerability of the ORs be taken into account due to the total economic dependence on air and maritime transport, and obtained the support of the spokesmen of
seven parliamentary groupswhich in principle will allow a sufficient majority to be articulated so that the exemption goes ahead in tomorrow's vote, if there are no last-minute changes of position.

In his struggle to leave the Canary Islands out of the tax for CO2 emissions, López Aguilar appealed to the
singularities of the ORs -recognized in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)- against
discrepant positions that they saw a risk of undermining the community's green strategy if the same right were granted to the Greek islands or to Malta and Cyprus, which are island states.

The President of the Canary Government,
Angel Victor Torres, believes that the agreement reached by López Aguilar to present the amendment allows it to be
optimistic on tomorrow's decisive vote in the European Parliament, and assures that its approval would be "magnificent news" for the Canary Islands.

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