* EU negotiators haggle over aviation law enforcement, text
* EU must finalise new law by end of April
* U.S. airlines urge EU to waive penalties
By Barbara Lewis and Valerie Volcovici
BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON, Feb 20 U.S. airlines have
stepped up the pressure on EU countries not to impose fines for
alleged breaches of emissions rules in the latest twist to an
international row over aircraft pollution.
The warning coincided with a deadline on Thursday for
European Union nations to start enforcing rules covering 2012
emissions that could lead to fines of millions of euros against
U.S. airline association A4A said it was calling on the
European Commission, the EU executive, and its member states for
clarity that there would be no penalties.
"We and various aviation stakeholders continue to push for a
clear statement of relief from the application of the pending
deadlines," it said. The next deadline for operators is the end
of March, when they should report data for 2013 emissions.
Such a statement, A4A added, would avoid any need to invoke
blocking law agreed by the United States, which it can use to
shelter U.S. operators from compliance with the EU rules.
Details of airlines that have not complied for 2012
emissions are sketchy and many of the companies are small
private jets on lists of Commission data seen by Reuters.
The European Commission says most airlines, covering 98
percent of emissions, have complied and it relies on member
states to punish those that have not. It can take EU nations to
court if they fail to enforce EU law.
Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analyst Emil Dimantchev
calculated total fines owing could be as much as 39 million
euros ($54 million) on the basis of an allowance price of 7.5
euros per tonne on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).
By far the biggest fine would fall to Italian airline Blue
Panorama, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, adding
to the problems for EU nations in trying to enforce their law.
A spokesman for Blue Panorama said the company disputed the
"unfair and unreasonable" penalty because the bankruptcy
procedure had prevented it from fully complying.
Under EU rules, the penalty is 100 euros per tonne of
emissions for which an operator failed to submit carbon
allowances, plus they have to buy permits to make up for the
Britain says it has agreed to go ahead with enforcement of
the law from Feb. 20, but it wants consistency across the
A spokeswoman for Britain's Department of Energy and Climate
Change said it was continuing to follow "as harmonised an
approach as possible to enforcement for 2012 emissions".
Following a closed-door meeting of member states on the
issue, an EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity that there
was "a broad consensus among member states and the Commission
that EU law needs to be implemented".
Europe's major trading partners, including the United States
and China, said the EU law that took effect at the start of 2012
was a breach of sovereignty and they threatened retaliation.
China blocked orders for Airbus jets in protest at the
In response to the opposition, the European Union suspended
its law for intercontinental flights landing or taking off at EU
airports, but the legislation has remained in force for flights
within the European Union.
Some European carriers say they are at a disadvantage if
long-haul flights do not pay and they support enforcement.
How long the suspension for intercontinental flights will
continue is the subject of haggling among member states and EU
institutions, which need to agree a new law by the end of April
or the original legislation will reapply.
A first round of talks on Tuesday focused on how generous a
deadline to set for U.N. negotiations to deliver a global deal
on aviation emissions and whether revenues in the EU should be
earmarked for environment purposes. Talks resume in March.
The European Union said it suspended its law to give
negotiators at the U.N. body the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) the chance to come up with an alternative
that the world would accept.
ICAO will review progress in 2016 and some in Europe say
they should suspend the European Union's law only until then.
Britain, for instance, has said the deadline should be 2020,
which is when ICAO says a global plan to curb aviation emissions
should be in place.
Point Carbon's Dimantchev said there were political
sensitivities, but enforcement was "an important test" for the
role of aviation in the EU ETS.
Environmental campaigners say EU states will set a dangerous
precedent unless they enforce the law as it stands.
"Power plants owned by foreigners have been complying with
the EU ETS for years now. Foreign carriers flying in Europe's
airspace must also comply," Aoife O'Leary, sustainable aviation
officer at non-governmental organisation Transport &
($1 = 0.7272 euros)
(Additional reporting by Ben Garside in London, Tim Hepher in
Paris and Daniel Fineren in Dubai; Editing by Dale Hudson)