During the Conference on Carbon Pricing and Aviation Taxes, held in The Hague over June 20 and 21, the Community of Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) said exempting aviation from fuel tax was not fair or appropriate.

“For a climate impact as significant as aviation’s, around six times that of rail in terms of CO2 per passenger-km, there is no justification for a tax exemption,” CER said in a press release.

“What ultimately matters for rail in taxation matters is a level playing field between modes. While CER has long asked to enjoy the same general VAT exemption on cross-border travel as aviation, removing the latter quickly could also be part of a solution. Tax incentives should be used to promote rail during the transition to a more widely accepted transport mode.

“Specifically regarding electricity, railways should not be required to pay an extra tax on top of VAT on electricity from renewables, a principle violated in countries such as in Germany.”

A comparison of electricity tax rates compiled by German rail transport lobby group Allianz pro Schiene found tax is especially high in key transit countries like Austria and Germany.

While the rate is zero percent in some countries, CER said this doesn’t show that VAT is generally still charged on value added related to energy.

While cross-border aviation is exempted from VAT across Europe, cross-border passenger rail is subject to VAT in seven EU member states, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Croatia, Greece, Netherlands and Spain. Freight rail is also generally subject to VAT.

EU-wide taxation rules are decided by member states, with the European Parliament acting in an advisory role.