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The European Union is a political and economic union comprising 27 states located primarily in Europe. The EU collectively represents the world's largest economy, with a GDP of USD15 trillion (2009), and counts some 500 million people within its borders. The EU operates as a single market, with a common system of laws and trade policies, with 16 states have forming a monetary union, adopting a common currency - the euro. The single market is based on the four freedoms of the EU: the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services. 22 member states have agreed to abolish passport controls between them, under an agreement known as the Schengen Agreement. Major institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank.

The European Union was established in the aftermath of World War Two to bring peace, stability and prosperity to Europe. Key developments in its history include:

  • 1951: The European Coal and Steel Community is established by the six founding members
  • 1957: The Treaty of Rome establishes a common market
  • 1973: The Community expands to nine member states and develops its common policies
  • 1979: The first direct elections to the European Parliament
  • 1981: The first Mediterranean enlargement
  • 1993: Completion of the single market
  • 1993: The Treaty of Maastricht establishes the European Union
  • 1995: The EU expands to 15 members
  • 2002: Euro notes and coins are introduced
  • 2004: Ten more countries join the Union

European Commission Vice-President, Siim Kallas, is responsible for Transport.


3,209 total articles


124 total articles


UK air transport policy post-Scotland vote; 'devolution' could reshape previous aviation plans

1-Oct-2014 3:00 PM

UK aviation policy may well be substantially changed in the wake of the 18-Sep-2014 vote on the independence of Scotland, even though Scotland remains part of the UK. In this report we speculate on some of the possible aviation outcomes.

Roughly 55% of the electorate voted against independence versus 45% for, although four of 32 areas did vote in favour, including the biggest city, Glasgow. But that decision has hardly settled the matter; indeed the process of electioneering has opened up a Pandora’s Box of issues that possibly threaten the 307 year old Union even more than Scottish independence alone would have done. As ever, aviation will be dragged into the melee.

One thing now apparent is that there are no longer any certainties and that the Airports Commission especially needs to be aware, at a critical moment in its deliberations, of the many new forces at play - and the potential new scenarios.

Ryanair raises FY2015 profit guidance after strong 1Q. Warm and fuzzy O'Leary may be working

29-Jul-2014 12:31 PM

Ryanair increased its profits substantially in 1QFY2015, as revenue per seat grew faster than cost per seat. By comparison with the same quarter a year earlier, revenues and profits were assisted by the inclusion of Easter in 1Q this year, but the underlying trends still looked favourable.

In spite of its caution over the outlook for average fares in 2H, Ryanair has raised its profit guidance for FY2015, based on higher traffic and load factors and lower cost per passenger than previously expected.

This is in contrast with its profit warning last autumn (and with more recent profit warnings from a number of European legacy carriers) and gives some comfort that its strategic shift to increase the emphasis on customer service may be starting to work.

European air transport competitiveness. CAPA contributes to the debate at ECAC/EU Dialogue

11-Jul-2014 12:00 PM

On 3 & 4-Jul-2014, many of Europe's senior national and Commission-level aviation civil servants and regulators joined representatives of airports, ANSPs, airlines and labour organisations at a luxury hotel in Vienna. Billed as a Dialogue between the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and the European Union (EU), the purpose was to discuss European air transport competitiveness and to seek a way forward in a global environment.

The European aviation industry, its regulators and policy makers acknowledged that the continent is falling behind other major world regions in connectivity and airline profitability and needs to think about how to do better. By the end of the two days, while there were one or two protectionist noises, there was a near consensus view that market forces should be allowed to work. In addition, 'levelling the playing field' with other regions should focus on reducing aviation taxes and easing the processes for infrastructure development.

In this report, we summarise CAPA's analysis of the state of Europe's air transport sector, which was presented at the conference, and the other main themes that emerged from the Dialogue.

Airport charges: EC reports increased transparency in setting charges, but uneven implementation

30-Jun-2014 12:43 PM

The European Commission (EC) has released a report on Member States' application of the European Union (EU) rules on airport charges — the fees airlines pay to airports for the use of runways and terminals — which are sometimes estimated to account for up to 10% of airlines' operating costs. The Directive currently applies to around 75 airports in the European Economic Area, which comprises the 27 member states of the EU together with three of four states that are members of the European Free Trade Association; namely Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. (Croatia has applicant status to the EU).

The report shows that since the introduction of the rules in 2011 following a 2009 Directive, larger European airports have become more transparent when taking decisions about these charges. In general, consultations between airports and airlines, as required by the Directive, are now being carried out and Member States' independent supervisory authorities have been set up.

ACI's airport connectivity report adds weight to the European aviation liberalisation debate

17-Jun-2014 7:58 PM

Airport connectivity is a key theme in the aviation industry, with implications for public policy as well as airline and airport strategy. How should airport connectivity be defined and measured? At the regional level, how has Europe's airport connectivity changed over the past 10 years, both in absolute terms and relative to airports in other regions?

A detailed report published by ACI Europe in partnership with SEO Aviation Economics, entitled Airport Industry Connectivity Report, addresses these questions. It looks at Europe's total airport connectivity (direct and indirect), onward connectivity from Europe and hub connectivity. It also analyses differences between EU and non-EU airports and between different airport size categories.

The report highlights the loss of connectivity market share of EU hubs to non-EU European hubs such as Istanbul and Moscow and to non-European hubs in the Middle East. ACI warns of "the increasing risk of Europe being by-passed as an aviation hub" and calls on the EU to respond with more liberal aviation policies.

Air travel rises with a country's wealth. Law of nature, or can government policy make a difference?

1-Jun-2014 12:00 PM

CAPA's extensive country rankings database provides rich pickings for analysis of the relationship between the wealth of a country and the penetration of air travel in that country. Not surprisingly, our analysis confirms that the two are closely correlated. Countries with higher GDP per capita tend to have higher numbers of airline seats per capita.

Establishing a correlation does not indicate the direction of causality, which works in both directions. Economic wealth drives air travel, but air travel also helps to drive economic wealth. However, the correlation is not perfect and levels of penetration can be affected by geographical, political, fiscal and infrastructural factors. This leads to some countries having a significantly higher or lower number of airline seats per capita than might be expected simply from their level of GDP per capita.

Who are the out-performers, in terms of the penetration of air travel, and who are the under-performers? What are the characteristics of each group? How do the main regions of the world compare?

And what role can governments play? - in some cases, they can potentially make a significant difference.

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