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EU Clobbers British Families With A Green Tax On Flights

A green tax imposed by Brussels will cost a family of four £80 more to holiday in the U.S. The controversial levy comes into force on January 1.

A ruling yesterday by the European Court of Justice means any airline using any EU airport will be subject to the environmental charge.

This will add an estimated £21 to the price of a return flight to America.

It comes on top of charges to be introduced in April by the UK Treasury which will add to the burden faced by British holidaymakers. In all, the cost to a family of four of a return flight to Florida will rise by a daunting £344.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is designed to curb emissions from aircraft jet engines of carbon dioxide.

From January 1, all airlines will be required to buy a ‘permit to pollute’ to cover the cost of their carbon emissions plus extra costs if they exceed their emissions limit.

The court yesterday rejected a challenge from the U.S. and other non-EU nations that the levy infringes their national sovereignty and violates international aviation treaties.

The cost will almost inevitably be passed on to passengers, and the EU calculates the cost will be £10.50 on a one-way transatlantic flight – or £21 return. For many shorter flights it will be up to £1.75 each way.

The EU does not have power to raise direct taxes but can impose expensive regulations on businesses in member states, which have a similar effect.

The money raised each year by the sale to airlines of the ‘pollution permits’ will go back to the country in which the airline is based, rather than to Brussels.

The ECJ rejected an American challenge that the scheme violates the Open Skies treaty prohibition against unilateral taxation or discriminatory treatment.

It is especially bad news for British passengers, who will be forced to pay twice over because the Government also imposes the Air Passenger Duty departure levy, known as ‘the poll tax of the skies.’

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his recent Autumn Statement that he was increasing the cost of APD from April by an inflation-busting eight per cent. The Treasury insists the Government needs the extra cash to pay off its debts. Under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme each airline is allocated pollution ‘permits’ allowing it to emit around 20 per cent less carbon than its past average.

Airlines exceeding their limit can buy more permits from other airlines which have emitted less than their quota. The aim is to persuade or force airlines to emit less carbon by upgrading their fleets or becoming more efficient.

Last month the Daily Mail revealed how Mr Osborne had finally abandoned all previous Government pretence of using Air Passenger Duty as a ‘green tax’ and admitted in a letter to European airport bosses that it was now ‘fundamentally a revenue-raising duty’ which provides Treasury coffers with £2.5billion a year.

Yesterday’s decision sparked fury from countries outside the EU and threatened to ignite a transatlantic and worldwide trade war with Britain and the rest of the European Union. The rejected lawsuit was brought by U.S. and Canadian airlines acting through the trade organisation Airlines for America and backed by Russia, China and other non-EU countries.

They object strongly on ‘sovereignty’ grounds to being forced to pay ‘green’ taxes to foreign governments. A Bill currently going through the U.S. Congress will even make it illegal for airlines to pay them.

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