Economy and environment
Climate and emissions
On 24 November 2021, the parties forming the next German government(1) presented their coalition agreement. The agreement will likely affect the aviation and space industry in the fields of:
- economy and environment;
- climate and emissions; and
Support for research into increasingly climate-neutral aviation through research into synthetic fuels (known as "sustainable aviation fuel" (SAF)) is clearly stated in the agreement. Aviation research programmes (including materials research and lightweight construction) are to be accelerated and advance funding will be possible. Further, the independence of the national space programmes and the European Space Agency is to be preserved and strengthened as a national technology of the future. A key point here is the development of new space strategies that avoid and salvage space debris.
The national air pollution control programme is implementing measures to make the leakage of kerosene (known as "fuel dumping") more transparent and intends to develop ways of avoiding it. Also relevant to the aviation sector is the plan to promote soil-conserving forest cultivation via seed drones, a hitherto rather neglected industry with few suppliers.
The coalition has formulated a goal of introducing a Europe-wide air traffic tax along the lines of the German air traffic tax until the European Union decides whether to levy a kerosene tax. Currently, the Energy Tax Directive(2) allows kerosene tax only at a national level. Bilateral agreements are required at EU level for this purpose, but the existing air service agreements (ie, bilateral air transport agreements) provide for the opposite, as article 24 of the Chicago Convention precludes taxation. This, too, is likely to stand in the way of an EU decision. The argument is also circular. If the new government wants to prevent "carbon leakage" (as the paper states), it must not jeopardise the competitiveness of European air transport.
The announcement of the intention to expand rail transport in such a way that short-haul flights would become even less attractive, as already envisaged in the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital's 2017 air transport concept was expected, despite the fact that the actual figures show the opposite effect.
Aircraft noise is to be decreased by raising noise-based airport charges, thus promoting climate-neutral airport operations. The issue of effective noise protection will fall within the remit of German air traffic control and an amendment to the Aircraft Noise Protection Act is to be evaluated.
At an EU level, efforts will be made to implement the "single European sky". Certainly positive for the aviation industry is the announcement that detection and defence against drones should remain a sovereign task.
A successor system for the Tornado fighter will be found quickly. The alternatives so far are the Eurofighter Thyphoon and the American equivalents Boeing F/A-18F and EA-18. The German military is further allowed to arm itself with drones, with a focus on a protective function. The use of armed drones will be increased for international control regimes, while autonomous weapon systems are firmly rejected.
For further information on this topic please contact Sarah Joanna Haas or Ulrich Steppler at Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein by telephone (+49 403 177 9756) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein website can be accessed at www.asd-law.com.
(1) SPD, BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN and FDP.