The European Commission “lacks the bottle” to go against the interests of national governments, according to Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary.
Appearing in front of an Irish transport committee late last week, O’Leary said it was unfair that intra-EU short-haul flights were paying environmental taxes, while the more polluting long-haul flights remained exempt, the Express first reported.
“The European Parliament, which I would not be a big fan of, has called for environmental taxation to be extended to all long-haul flights travelling to and from Europe,” he told Irish politicians.
“[But] the European Council and Commission under the influence of the Germans, the French and the Dutch, are pushing back and saying, ‘No, we want to continue to exempt the most polluting flights used by the richest people travelling to and from Europe.’
“That’s what lobbying gets you in the marble halls of Brussels.”
The chief executive has also called on the EU to deal with the French air traffic controllers’ strikes, which have crippled the country over the last few months.
Workers have been walking out as part of a dispute over salaries.
According to O’Leary, the strikes usually take place on a Friday so that workers can have a three-day weekend.
“Our people, our citizens, our visitors are being completely screwed over while a bunch of French air traffic controllers go on strike – and we fully respect their right to go on strike – but let the French take the hit,” the chief executive said.
“It is bizarre that Europe’s free movement of people across Europe in a single market is allowed to be threatened by the French every time they have these recreational strikes, which they have frequently in the summer.”
The European Commission was approached for comment.