France’s 2022 EU Presidency won’t affect flights in the EU; France won’t urge EU members to ban short-haul flights.
After the ban on short-haul flights in April to foster green traveling, the country that will hold the EU presidency from January to June 2022 communicated that it would not push member states to adopt France’s measure.
France’s Rail Network Is Not Comparable to That in the Rest of the EU
The French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari highlighted that France had a specific rail network with several high-speed trains, convenient for travelers.
Djebbari said, “It’s possible that we have the discussion (at an EU level), but so far, we have a national approach, given the national railway network.”
Djebbari’s comments are critical because the French government will hold the EU presidency in 2022, giving it the authority to lobby and likely debate transport policies in the 27-nation-bloc for the first half of next year. Still, according to Djebbari, France won’t urge EU members to ban short-haul flights.
French laws prohibit domestic flights shorter than two and a half hours that can be replaced by trains. It only affects domestic destinations, e.g., from Paris to Lyon, and connecting flights are excluded. Environmental groups say the overall impact on emissions is negligible.
France boasts 2,800 kilometers of high-speed trains that link destinations like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or London, but doesn’t restrict flights to other countries even though people could travel there using the train. Greenpeace asked European governments to do without short-haul flights if there are six-hour railway alternatives.
According to the global environmentalist’s statement, using the train for intra-European destinations can lower the pollution in Europe in a simple way. Greenpeace says trains are also more economical.
The commercial aviation industry accounts for 2.5% of the world’s carbon emissions; long-haul flights cause the most pollution. The former pilot Djebbari warned that while the measures were necessary for response to the industry’s impact on the climate, initiatives were inevitable to tackle new taxes and levies.
He said, “If the middle class realize in five years that they are not able to travel anymore, we’re going to have a European political problem. So, we need to be careful with what they are doing.”
To raise awareness of the benefits of rail transport and green traveling, a train was established for the occasion of the European Year of Rail 2021. The Connecting Europe Express, an EU-joint rail traveling alternative that travels through all 27 member states’ capitals, started in Lisbon, Portugal, on September 2nd and passed 33 borders and over 20,000 kilometers. The train reached its final destination of Paris after 36 days and 120 stops across the 27-nation-bloc.