Fresh on the heels of the announcement last week that China was threatening to cancel orders for 9 billion euros worth of orders for Airbus jetliners, seven of Europe’s leading aviation companies have joined forces this week to formally oppose the European Union’s tax on airline emissions designed to combat global warming.

This joint action raises the stakes in what has become a major battle over Brussels’ drive to curb carbon pollution by taxing airlines operating over European territory, regardless of the flight’s point of origin. See “European Affairs” article for detailed background on the airline emissions debate. The appeal by Airbus and six other airlines came in letters to European political leaders including Britain’s David Cameron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Fillon asking them to urge the EU to put the measure “on hold.”  The initiative is also backed by top executives of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Air France, Air Berlin and Iberia.  The heads of two makers of aerospace engines, Safran of France and MTU of Germany, also signed the letters.

The US and Russia are also on record as opposing the emissions tax.  Last year the US lost a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice, which ruled that the tax was legal under EU and international law. The US House of Representative in the meantime has passed a bill with bi-partisan support that would make it illegal for US carriers to participate, or pay, in the emission tax scheme.  The matter is pending in the US Senate.  House Subcommittee Chair John L. Mica (R-FL) called the EU measure “a violation of US sovereignty.”

The EU has resolutely defended the measure.  After winning the court case in December an EU spokesperson said: “We will neither abandon nor delay it.”

  • World Radio Conference Outcomes

    By Patricia Paoletta, Washington DC

    The latest World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) wrapped up in late November after four long weeks of negotiations between 3400 delegates from around 165 Member States. All in all, the WRC resulted in positive outcomes for both 5G and Wi-Fi, and will benefit both the U.S. and Europe's communications agendas, particularly with respect to the decisions on spectrum to be allocated for the all-important 5G service. The effect will be to ensure the more rapid development of the next generation of mobile broadband in a manner consistent with U.S. planning and existing development.  Debates on 5G dominated the conference, but allocations for high-altitude platform stations (“HAPS”) sought by U.S. based firms were also favorable. As a result, plans to provide additional internet service to underserved areas may be accelerated.

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UMD Jean Monnet Research Project

Infrastructure Planning and Financing: Lessons from Europe and the United States

The University of Maryland has received a Jean Monnet grant from the EU to conduct a series of policy exchanges between Europe and the US on filling infrastructure needs and the utility of public/private partnerships as the financing mechanism. If interested in participating in or receiving more information about these exchanges, please contact Rye McKenzie (

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New from the Bertelsmann Foundation

The Bertelsmann Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC with a transatlantic perspective on global challenges.

"Edge of a Precipice" by Nathan Crist

"Newpolitik" by Emily Hruban


Summer Course