28-Sep-2012 11:57 AM

EC proposes more partner agreements, liberalisation and competition safeguards in policy review

European Commission (EC) announced (27-Sep-2012) proposals for a more ambitious external aviation policy, demanding a “more co-ordinated and assertive approach” to strengthen its ability to defend European interests policy in reaction to new challenges, as well as to create new business opportunities in fast emerging markets. The EC proposed actions in three key areas:

  • New aviation agreements with neighbours and international partners:
    • EC is proposing new EU level air transport agreements with key and “increasingly important” aviation partners such as China, Russia, the Gulf States, Japan, India and ASEAN nations;
    • Complete aviation agreements with Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Egypt by 2015. To accelerate the process, EU member states should grant the EC a general negotiating mandate for the remaining neighbourhood countries;
    • EC intends to put forward a list of priorities for EU negotiating mandates in early 2013. The total economic benefits of all agreements are estimated at EUR12 billion p/a;
    • EC also proposed industrial and technological agreements with key partners and other countries in areas such as ATM – including cooperation with the SESAR programme – and safety – including certification of aeronautical products;
  • Measures to strengthen fair competition:
    • To safeguard “fair competition”, the EU is proposing to develop a new more effective instrument to protect European interests against unfair practices, as existing EU regulation has proven "impracticable";
    • As an additional safeguard measure standard "fair competition clauses" developed at EU-level are to be agreed and included in existing bilateral air services agreements between EU member states and non-EU countries. The practical effect of this would be in their bilateral agreements EU member states and partner countries would jointly lay down procedures to safeguard fair competition for the respective air services;
  • Tackling ownership and control restrictions:
    • EC believes it is now time to address cross-border ownership and control restrictions more vigorously and to take the additional steps envisaged in the EU-US air transport agreement to liberalise airline ownership and control in order to allow airlines to consolidate and attract the investment they need. EC believes this should also be pursued at ICAO level. [more - original PR]

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