March 12th, 2012
08:11 PM GMT
London (CNN) – The letter from the seven airlines complaining about the European Emissions Trading system made me smile. Not that there is anything funny about the prospect of a full-blown trade war between Europe and inter alia, China, the fastest-growing super economy in the world.
Rather because it smacked of too little, too late. Where were these airlines writing their letters when the scheme was being initiated, promulgated and ultimately brought into force?
No doubt they made protests behind the scenes and lobbied like fury - which got them precisely nowhere! The Commission was impervious to the threats of trade wars. They barrelled on regardless of the damage that was being threatened.
I know this because the EU commissioner responsible, Connie Hedegaard, was on Quest Means Business defending the scheme. To her credit, she hasn't wavered. The view in Brussels was, if the ICAO process was going to be delayed and drawn out then the EU would go its own way - and that is exactly what they have done.
I am guessing the Europeans figured the rest of the world would start a similar scheme of their own, or just go along with it. They probably figured there would be a lot of hot air such as a 'basket of countermeasures' suggested at the meeting in Moscow attended by 23 countries including the US, Russia and China.
The Russian deputy minister could not have been clearer saying they wanted the EU scheme "cancelled or postponed." They got neither.
Louis Gallois the CEO of EADS, owners of Airbus, has gone even further - actually saying that the scheme is delaying orders from China for 45 Airbus planes, costing business and eventually jobs. That has washed over too.
So please tell me what good this letter will do? Why the bleating of six large airlines and Airbus will hit home? It won't. It never does.
The British government has ignored all entreaties from aviation about the cost of its ill-conceived and expensive APD tax on tickets. It has rejected the calls for a rethink of its refusal to consider building a third runway at Heathrow.
Aviation bleats. No-one listens.
The Europeans have embarked on a course of unilateral action that ultimately will have consequences for trade unless they reverse course - which they seems singularly unprepared to do.
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