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EU/SWITZERLAND/CLIMATE CHANGE : EU APPLIES ETS UNILATERALLY TO SWISS AIR TRAFFIC.

It is not only over the tax and institutional chapters that Berne and the EU are fighting. In response to a call from the parliament, on 22 May, the Federal Council (government) expressed its dissatisfaction at the unilateral application of the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) to European air traffic.

Switzerland is excluded from the application of the ETS - which applies to airlines operating flights to or from EU airports. The response to the ETS, according to UDC (nationalist and anti-European right-wing) MP Thomas Hurter, was a "strong-arm" intervention from the BRIC countries and the US, which denounced a "violation of international law". Hurter has already twice brought proceedings to the Federal Council on this dossier.

On 27 February, the Federal Council informed Hurter of the decision, reached on 20 November 2012 by the European Commission, which proposed a one-year suspension of the application of the EU ETS to airlines operating flights to and from countries outside the EU.

But this exemption does not stretch to Switzerland, which voiced its incredulity at this process in November of last year through its delegation that had attended a meeting of the air transport committees of the EU and Switzerland. Based on the Federal Council's 22 May response, the Swiss Minister of the Environment, Doris Leuthard, wrote twice to Commissioner Connie Hedegaard to express "incredulity at the way the EU [was] proceeding and to ask for the draft legislation to be amended so that the EU's stop-the-clock proposal [would] apply to Switzerland in the same way that it applies to third countries".

In spite of these letters, the commissioner did not budge. On 8 February, she responded to a letter penned by Leuthard on 19 December 2012. In her response, Hedegaard justified her position and said that "Switzerland's position on climate policy was comparable to the EU's position in ongoing negotiations on the interconnection of Swiss and EU systems for the trading of emissions quotas, Switzerland's geographical location, and its integration in the single market".

Hedegaard also noted that the annex of the current EU ETS provides for a unilateral inclusion of Switzerland in the EU ETS. "Accordingly, the EU's proposal in no way changes Switzerland's situation."

The commissioner is supported by the European Parliament, which adopted the Commission's proposal on 16 April without making any of the changes Switzerland had asked for. The Federal Council notes that it will now try, together with the Commission, to find a way to move forward on this dossier. This will certainly have a bearing on Swiss air transporters, who have to count their CO2 emissions in EU traffic and buy certificates for part of their emissions.

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Title Annotation:European Union; Emissions Trading System
Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:May 27, 2013
Words:441
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