The European Commission (EC) has restated its determination to introduce stricter international standards for aircraft noise and emissions, with or without international agreement.

In a policy document on the environment adopted in early December, the EC Transport Directorate "seeks to reconcile competitiveness in the air transport sector and environmental improvements". The document, or Communication, endorsed by Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, will act as a framework for legislation to be enacted from the second half of this year and will be reassessed at the end of 2001.

The Directorate has committed itself to an "integrated approach" and "will no longer confine itself to setting technical standards." Instead it wants measures which will "apply throughout the European Union but which should also serve as a basis for a more consistent stance on the promotion of the EU's own interests within the International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO]".

The EC aims to define stricter international standards for noise and emissions and, in the absence of international agreement, Europe could impose such standards unilaterally. The EC Transport Directorate has set out plans for the development of what it describes as "more effective economic and regulatory incentives" such as an "international approach to the question of taxes on aircraft fuel, which could not be applied solely in Europe".

The document commits the Commission to exploring "several alternative forms of environmental tax, with a view to defining a joint approach and identifying the most efficient systems and types of taxation".

The EC also envisages a raft of EU-wide noise measures to be put in place at airports. These include the institution of a common noise classification scheme, the definition of a standard index and a standard method for calculating noise levels and the introduction of noise-monitoring, noise-zoning and land use rules.

In addition, the policy document stresses the EC's commitment to research and development work in the field of aviation and the environment.

Source: Airline Business