The Conflict over Aviation Emissions:
A Case of Retreating EU Leadership?
Antto Vihma & Harro van Asselt
Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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the incremental steps taken in October 2013, meaningful action on regulating international
aviation emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
remains a distant prospect. The European Union (EU) must decide on its aviation
Directive without the guarantee of a global market-based mechanism being agreed
and uncompromising positions of countries opposed to the inclusion of foreign
airlines in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) are more related to a
realist game of politics rather than to the design details of the policy
political and legal arguments against the European Commission’s proposal to
amend the EU ETS vis-à-vis aviation emissions are unconvincing.
should also insist on its own sovereign rights – such as the right to regulate
international aviation in its own airspace – and consider ways of manifesting
more assertiveness in the future in order not to create a precedent with the
retreat in the Aviation Directive case.
the EU may become vulnerable to pressure in other areas of regulation with extraterritorial
implications, and the EU’s credibility when faced with strong and coordinated external
influences might be undermined.