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Open skies EU-US agreement - MEPs call for it to be endorsed

Transport - 14-03-2007 - 14:58
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An airplane taking-off

MEPs broadly in favour of draft EU-US Open Skies agreement

MEPs adopted a resolution on the recent draft EU-US Opens Skies agreement recognising the importance of the EU-US aviation agreement not only in its own right but also as a model for later agreements. MEPs call on the Council Ministers of Transport to endorse the 2 March 2007 draft agreement during its meeting of 22 and 23 March 2007.

The House calls upon EU and US negotiators to reach a balanced aviation agreement as soon as possible.  The House welcomes, therefore, the text for a new draft agreement agreed upon by EU and US delegations on 2 March 2007 as an important step towards an integrated transatlantic aviation market that will be to the benefit of consumers.
 
MEPs would have preferred the conclusion of one balanced overall agreement covering all aspects of market opening and regulatory convergence to a phased approach employing partial agreements.
 
Market opening
 
Parliament emphasises that a new EU-US aviation agreement should be balanced in terms of market access, considering also such issues as cabotage, right of establishment, ownership and de facto control and state aid.  MEPs, therefore, prefer the inclusion of cabotage in the agreement, as without cabotage an agreement will tend to be in favour of US carriers, who are allowed flights between points in different EU Member States, whereas EU carriers are not allowed flights between points in the US.
 
MEPs regret  that no progress has been made on cabotage and that the possibility for EU carriers to exercise effective control over a US airline is still limited, even with the extended ownership clauses.
 
Safety and security
 
Parliament calls on the Commission and the US, to review the efficiency of the additional security measures enforced since 2001 so as to eliminate overlapping and weak links in the security chain.
 
MEPs advocate the concept of 'one stop security', checking passengers and luggage only at the start of their journey and not again at every transfer.
 
Environment
 
MEPs recognise that the aviation sector has several negative environmental effects, in particular as a source of noise and as a contributor, like other modes of transport, to climate change, and that these effects will increase with the growth of aviation. The House underlines the need for both the EU and the US side to take effective measures to reduce the negative environmental impact of aviation, without prior exclusion of any regulatory, financial or other instrument to achieve this goal.
 
MEPs welcome the Commission's proposal to include aviation in the European emissions trading system to reduce the impact of the aviation sector on climate change.  The House calls on both parties to exchange best practices on noise reduction, acknowledging differences in local circumstances.
 
British Labour MEP sounds a note of caution
 
Brian Simpson (Labour, North West) said during the debate on 13 March:  "With over 40% of the EU-US market, this particular agreement is of great interest, of course, to the United Kingdom. While I accept that the agreement could deliver some benefits to consumers, it has still to my mind failed to address some fundamental issues and has a number of question markets over it. In particular, the deal falls well short of providing the kind of access to the US market that a number of EU carriers would like. It does little with regard to ownership of US airlines and appears little different from previous deals rejected by the European Union.
 
So, in my opinion, those who enthusiastically welcomed this agreement may need to pause a little and examine it in more detail to see what it delivers for the EU. I know the ultimate goal is to create an open aviation area with the US and I indeed support any agreement that would unlock the transatlantic aviation market. But the question is: does this deal help deliver that? To me it is a deal that promises the EU jam tomorrow and gives the US the jam today. However, if this agreement does go ahead, then we must ensure that a clear timetable is quickly put in place with real and serious incentives on both sides to move forward to a second stage deal that delivers a fully open aviation market.
 
In short, I do not think this deal is a disaster, but it is not as great as the Commission would have you believe. It is merely a first step and one that would appear to benefit the US. I look forward in future agreements to the United States giving something a bit more substantial back and for that country to stop over-protecting its aviation industry."
 
Conduct of negotiations
 
Finally, MEPs call on the Commission to ensure full information and consultation of the European Parliament and of all relevant stakeholders before and throughout second-stage negotiations.
 
REF.: 20070314IPR04173