Council of the EU for the Environment and Eco-Innovation – day 1

« Between health and sustainability: “How to ensure an effective ecological transition through the transport sector?” » That is the fundamental question the Council of the EU to the Environment and Eco-Innovation must find an answer/solution to in these debates. The question itself opens a broader range of issues yet to be answered. 

The environmental crisis has been hitting Europe, as well as the rest of the world, for some time already, but day after day the issue only becomes larger and finding solutions, more urgent. Despite the global tensions of this year 2022, the commissioners Díaz Sofía, Even Tanguy, Kerangall Alice et Martínez Puchol Luis moderate the debate’s webinar admirably well. 

The first section of the text proposal is the following: The incentive to member countries of the European Union for a more accessible, environmentally efficient flow of transportation; dependent upon green/eco-friendly policies, which – among other objectives –  aim at the reduction of CO2 emissions.

To start off the debate, the delegates discussed article 1.1, which proposes that the Member States of this charter decide to abolish flights within their national territory when they can instead cover a feasible distance by train. First criticized for being too drastic, Austria proposes an Amendment. When the voting took place, the majority was favorable, so the Amendment passed. It aims to progressively diminish national flights, but not to abolish them completely, therefore coincidentally, gradually diminishing carbon emissions.

The discussion on article 1.2 finalizes this contemplation by introducing a tax on airplane tickets and therefore negatively influencing their demand. Finally, the delegations debated and voted for an Amendment, which contained some modifications. The additions read: national flights within the national territory of an EU Member will be taxed. The tax on citizens must be proportional to the distance covered. The flights that are not at full capacity, the most heavily polluting flights, as well as the flights that are within other transportation (e.g., train, bus, boat, car, etc.) distance, shall be removed. The implementational ecological and eco-friendly articles discussed today, bring us a step ahead and marginally closer to achieving the EU’s end goal of transitioning to a Climate-neutral European Union by 2050.

Today, the first section of the Text Proposal was addressed. The debate was eventful, Amendments were made and voted in, and alliances were formed. The Lithuanian, Austrian, Romanian, Polish, German and Dutch delegations seem to have common interests when it comes to implementing additional Green policies in the EU. Could the fact that most of them are neighboring countries have something to do with it? The delegates are animated and anticipating tomorrow’s debate so that they may continue to negotiate in their country’s best interest. 

Lisa Banti / S6EN / EEB1 Uccle

Reporter for EUROmad 2022

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