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Students seek to end kerosene tax exemption for EU flights

On 10 May 2019, the European Commission registered the European citizens’ initiative ‘Ending the aviation fuel tax exemption in Europe’. Students from across Europe are calling for the end to kerosene tax exemption for flights within the EU.

What our initiative is about

Our citizens’ initiative aims to introduce a tax on kerosene aviation fuel for domestic and intra-European flights. While greener alternatives to aviation are subject to high taxes, the aviation industry benefits from many unjust tax exemptions. Aviation fuel remains untaxed in Europe and Member States do not impose VAT on plane tickets, making aviation an attractive transport mode whereas it is the most carbon-intensive.

These subsidies to the aviation sector create incentives for consumers to increasingly use the most carbon-intensive transport mode instead of greener alternatives, and fail to incentivise the aviation sector to cut emissions. As a result, aviation is a major source of CO2 emissions, increasing its emissions by 21 % within Europe in the last three years, and is predicted to continue growing (Transport & Environment, 2019). If Europe is to meet its climate targets, action is needed and tax policy has a key role to play.

Who we are

We are a group of current and former students from across Europe. As such, the members of our Committee live in France, Greece, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

Why we started our citizens’ initiative

Our journey began when we observed that the most carbon-intensive mode of transportation – aviation – remains outside the boundaries of taxation in Europe. Despite the ever increasing availability and usage of commercial flights, the environmental impacts have remained unaddressed. We realised that most people are unaware of the dangers in developing the aviation sector so we sought to attract the attention of not only policymakers, but first and foremost the European citizens themselves.

The two goals we want to achieve

Firstly, the policy change we propose would bring an end to the lucrative tax exemptions that have allowed the aviation sector to monopolise long-distance travel and have created unfair competition at the expense of more sustainable travel alternatives. We propose the introduction of a regressive tax, which means that tax would be higher for short-distance flights. In this way, we can incentivise people to avoid planes for short distances.

The second part of our proposal to the Commission includes a recommendation to use the tax revenue generated to develop and improve long-distance railways. Developing and subsidising the railway industry while simultaneously ending the kerosene tax exemption is a twofold necessity to reduce EU transport emissions from aviation. We propose to keep the tax exemption for flights from and to islands not connected by bridges or tunnels because no viable alternatives exist.

More information and link to the petition on our website:

Contributor: Tassos Papachristou (and Timothée Galvaire)
Contributor’s background: The organisers of the initiative are students from all corners of Europe who have committed themselves to build a more sustainable future 

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1 Comment

  1. This will be in fact "Eastern Europeans tax". Cheep flight have allowed all people who work in a different country to have more or less normal work family life balance by facilitating regular friends and family visits to and from their country of origin. We don't need blanket kerosine tax ! Tax it for short flights like Frankfurt- Brussels  but not all flights