The law of the land

Non-compliance with the EU ETS

It is reported that several non-EU aviation companies have not complied with their obligations under the EU ETS.  These companies have made flights within the EU which come under the scope of the EU ETS.  This is not to be confused with flights with one foot in the EU and one foot outside the EU – such flights were exempted from obligations under the EU ETS by the “stop the clock” measure.  No, we are talking about flights which started and finished in the EU.

Member states must impose the normal penalty on those companies.  If they don’t pay, then the normal procedure should be followed whenever an airline owes money to a government body.  A company which does not comply with the EU ETS should be treated like any other company which breaks the law irrespective of where it comes from.

Any delay or indecision about issuing the penalty for non-compliance (100 euro for each EUA not submitted) would have disturbing implications for the rule of law.  If EU member states become selective about which industrial companies they apply the rules of the EU ETS to, Europe’s aviation, industrial and energy companies would be justified in boycotting the system.  The EU ETS could become unmanageable.

The Chinese made it clear that they disapproved of the original scope of the EU ETS when they suspended orders of Airbus aircraft.  At that point in time, the EU’s rule of law became negotiable and it felt forced to compromise for the sake of jobs at Airbus.

The reduced scope of the EU ETS is more reasonable.  If member states sell out on this matter too, then gradually our environmental legislation just becomes an economic convenience with no basis in justice or right and wrong.  Once obeying and enforcing the law both become negotiable and arbitrary, the institution of law loses social or moral legitimacy.  This can spread like an illness.  A region whose law has no legitimacy will quickly become uncivilised.

China, India, Russia and the USA understand the principle that the law must apply evenly to everyone.  The EU has to be uncompromising in defending that principle.

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