‘Open skies’ treaty threatens fight against global warming (The Guardian, 20 February 2006)
Britain could lose its ability to impose environmental taxes, restrictions and safeguards on airlines under a draft treaty between the EU and US which curtails the power of national governments. The draft treaty, meant to liberalise aviation, includes a little noticed clause requiring EU states to reach agreement with each other and with the US before taking measures to tackle noise or pollution from airlines.
This story is factually incorrect in a number of ways. Nothing in the draft agreement would prevent the EU from taking environmental measures in aviation policy. The draft agreement does not place either the EU or the US under any obligation to agree with the other in advance of taking environmental measures, and nothing in the text would curtail the existing powers of national governments in relation to environmental matters. The European Commission will later this year (2006) for instance make a proposal to include aviation in the emissions trading scheme to combat global warming.
The article also states that levies imposed by national governments would be made impossible without prior transatlantic agreement. This is incorrect. The draft agreement would not prevent levies such as the UK’s air passenger duty, which already exists today.
It is also not correct to state that the treaty will be subject to a vote requiring the consent of 65% of member states.
That refers to a voting rule proposed in the draft EU Constitution, which was rejected by referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005.