Energy Tax

Aviation is exempt from Energy Tax

Aviation is the most climate-intensive form of transport. Therefore it is even more distorting that aviation has been spared from taxation of energy which has been introduced on a EU-wide basis:

Since 2003 every form of energy, including car fuel, electricity, oil, even coal and coke, are subject to Energy Tax introduced by Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity. However, according to Art. 14 of this Directive Member States have to exempt fuel for the purpose of air navigation from Energy Tax. Thus Art. 14 of the Directive prolongs the long-standing tradition of the EU and its Member States to grant privileged tax treatment to the aviation industry.

The outlook is bleak as well: The EU-Commission’s proposals for an amendment to the Energy Tax Directive (COM(2011) 168 and COM(2011) 169) splits Energy Tax into two parts:

  • The first part links the amount of tax to be paid to the content of energy of the source in question. Unless Art. 14 of the Energy Tax Directive will be lifted aviation will not be subject to Energy Tax related to the content of energy.
  • The second part of Energy Tax shall be levied on the amount of emitted carbon dioxide (CO2). This part of Energy Tax will only be applied to such sources of energy which are not part of the European Union’s trading system in CO2-Emission Certificates (EU-ETS). Therefore, and as aviation participates in the EU-ETS (although only formally, because currently suspended), aviation will not be not subject to the CO2-related part of Energy Tax as well.


As a result, aviation fuel is and will remain free from any tax on energy. And even though critical voices have been raised (such as by the European Union’s Economic and Social Committee, the European NGO Transport & Environment) the EU Commission does not intend to abolish this subsidy of the aviation industry.


Concerns raised in the European Parliament have so far been ignored as well (March/April 2012): „Air and maritime navigation: Directive 2003/96/EC obliges Member States to exempt from taxation fuel used for non-pleasure air and maritime navigation. Members consider that such exemptions are not in line with the aim of creating a level playing field among the various modes of transport. They should therefore be phased out.“


The inclusion of aviation into the EU-ETS is not a substitute for energy taxation. It may serve as an interim measure to cover the time gap until proper energy taxation is applied to aircraft fuel but it cannot establish a system of fair taxation.


We demand that aviation is fully subjected to energy tax within the shortest possible time, in the interim we demand the immediate lifting of the suspension of EU-ETS for aviation.