New ECI Asking for a Kerosene Tax Already With 10.000 Signatures

2019-05-29 News

The new ECI ”Ending the aviation fuel tax exemption in Europe” just has started to gather support and received already more than 10.000 supporters. Find out more about this promising ECI in the interview with Timothée Galvaire, the ECI’s representative.

Only twelve days ago you launched your ECI Campaign. Today you have already more than 10.000 signatures. How did you reach this high level of support in such a short time?

Timothée Galvaire: As far as we know, our petition was shared by organisations that have been supporting us even before our ECI was registered including the European Green Party, Transport & Environment and Stay Grounded. Major Green MEPs and parties such as Sven Giegold, Karima Delli and Belgian Groen also publicly supported us.

What is your concrete goal in your ECI?

Timothée Galvaire: The proposal of our ECI seeks the introduction of a pan-European kerosene tax for all flights within our Union. What is equally important is creating incentives for people to use alternative and more environmental-friendly means of transport such as trains, instead of the most polluting mode of transport. Aviation plays a central role in today’s globalised world and we recognise that fully. Nevertheless, we believe that substitutes to planes should be promoted by our governments. Therefore, our proposal seeks the creation of a regressive kerosene tax, which primarily aims at taxing short flights with higher rates. Similarly, we desire to preserve a tax exemption for flights to islands.

Initial supporters complained about the dysfunctional Online Collection System, in particular about the Captcha. What happened?

Timothée Galvaire: The Captcha has indeed been a bit dysfunctional for some people. 15 people complained about it. Since we are using the Commission’s online collection system we can’t do anything about it apart from reporting the problems to the Commission. But the problem seems to be fixed considering we haven’t received any complaint for one week.

It seemed there also was a problem with the general set-up of the Online Collection System (OCS) – is that right?

Timothée Galvaire: We chose to use the Commission’s OCS which is hosted by the Luxembourgish CTIE (Centre des technologies de l’information de l’État) because it seemed to us it would be easier than creating ours from scratch and also because the Commission doesn’t advertise alternative existing OCS (like your openECI software).

We however had a problem with the certification of our OCS. On the Commission’s website, it is written that ‘The competent national authority has one month to verify whether the technical specifications referred to above are satisfied.’ I therefore thought that the CTIE would have had one month to certify the OCS after I sent them by email all the documents by mail on 26th March. However, 8 days before the official registration of the ECI, the CTIE told me that the one month period to certify an OCS starts when they receive the documents by post and not by e-mail. It was really unfair because I was recommended by the Commission to send the documents by e-mail so we lose less time in the correction process. Moreover, I received the first feedback by the CTIE on 23rd April, meaning it took them four weeks to ask for corrections. Our OCS was certified on 14th April, with a 5 days delay because the ECI was officially registered from 10th April.

Beyond having 5 less days to collect the signatures (because the one year countdown started on 10th April), such an uncertainty regarding the launch of the petition was really detrimental to the beginning of the campaign as we couldn’t know in advance when our ECI would be certified and therefore couldn’tannounce it to our partners.

Campaigning requires resources – how many Euros have you fundraised?

Timothée Galvaire: 0 Euro. We haven’t needed money so far. And we still haven’t started the procedure to get a bank account yet.

Who are the people behind your ECI?

Timothée Galvaire: We are a group of current and former students of Maastricht University. We tried to represent within our citizens committee every sphere of Europe from the South to the North, and from the East to West. Through this we hope to create a more enriched environment that can help our ECI develop and succeed. As such, the members of our Committee represent France, Greece & Belgium, as well as Italy, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

How did you get the idea and what general problem do you want to solve?

Timothée Galvaire: 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 horrid environmental impacts of these developments have remained unaddressed. As we realised that most people are not aware of dangers in the development of the aviation sector, we sought to address this growing concern by attracting the attention of not only policy-makers, but first and foremost of the European citizens themselves. The aviation sector continues to enjoy unfair and lucrative tax advantages, while other modes of transportation such as trains cannot compete with the heavily subsidised air-travel industry. Correspondingly, we chose to pursue an initiative that seeks to achieve the logical response: putting an end to the tax exemption of aviation fuel and providing European citizens with more sustainable and viable alternatives for transportation.