By Zachary Laven, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

In the tug-of-war over new EU rules levying carbon taxes on airlines’ flights, the U.S. has signaled for the first time that failure to change or at least postpone the European plan could hold up future progress on global climate-change talks.

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The neuralgic international dispute on emission fees for airlines has finally jumped to the top of the “transatlantic” in-boxes in Washington and Brussels. The issue has been venomously deadlocked for months, as described in a recent article in European Affairs (which sparked feedback, public and private, from both industry and regulatory circles). But the long-simmering dispute is now approaching a January 1 deadline – trigger date for the EU to start its program on airliners for their carbon emissions over their entire flights anywhere in the world if they use an EU airport.

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             (See comment on this subject by IATA official at end of story.)

It is called “going postal” in American slang when a dispute, usually in the workplace, becomes extremely and uncontrollably angry. That is exactly what has happened in the long-simmering dispute between the EU and the U.S. (and most other global players) about European intentions to levy emission-charges on all flights in or out of EU airports.

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On October 20, 2011, S. Decker Anstrom, Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference, which will be held early next year in Geneva stressed that the greatest priority for the U.S. and the conference as a whole would be spectrum allocation, which both the US and Europe consider key to stimulating sustainable economic growth. Mr. Anstrom also detailed additional U.S. priorities, while emphasizing the importance of transatlantic cooperation and the significant presence of shared interests between the U.S. and the EU.

On September 30, 2011, David McMillan, Director General of EUROCONTROL, offered his assessment of the future of European air traffic management (ATM). With airspace and airport capacity constraints a reality on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. McMillan outlined the progress of the European Union's Single European Sky Initiative, including a new performance driven regime that will set binding targets on capacity, cost-efficiency and environmental impact, beginning next January. Highlighting the strong working relationship with the FAA, Mr. McMillan urged even closer European-American cooperation in developing globally interoperable ATM solutions.

Click here to read Mr. McMillan's speech.