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 Full text 
Wednesday, 13 March 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Safeguarding competition in air transport (debate)

  Jacqueline Foster, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, we’ve come a long way since the first exchange of views on this proposal. The original Commission text of Regulation No 868 unfortunately took a protectionist approach that would have allowed the Commission to impose penalties on third-country carriers before complaints against them had been properly investigated. This sent a hugely pessimistic signal to our international trading partners and would have globally damaged our connectivity and our reputation. The original text would also have enabled uncompetitive European carriers to complain about their competitors, giving the Commission power to punish them before reviewing evidence.

Of course it’s right to crack down on unfair competition but not at the expense of damaging consumer choice, increasing ticket prices and costing jobs, as well as affecting the supply chain. However, following the trilogue, I can now support the final agreement, not least because it clarifies Member States’ competencies, for example on dispute settlements through their current bilateral air service agreements with third countries, and more. Therefore, I think we now strike a satisfactory balance, which I believe will allow the market between the EU and third countries to grow and innovate.

For future reference, the EU should always take an outward-looking approach, which is more advantageous in the long term.

Mr President, this is probably my final speech in this Chamber. My first was in 1999. May I take the opportunity to thank the interpreters, both here and in Brussels, the Secretariat and all the staff of the European Parliament bodies for their support and professionalism. I wish them all very well in their future endeavours.

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