REGULATION ON COMMON RULES FOR THE OPERATION OF AIR SERVICES

In “Deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base / Services including transport”

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In 2011-2013, the Commission carried out a comprehensive evaluation (Fitness Check) of Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community. The Fitness Check concluded that key opportunities for improvement were to be found in the enforcement, coordination and exchange of best practices between EU Member States. It considered the existing rules to be generally suitable and well balanced for promoting innovation and fair competition between air carriers. However, it identified a series of issues where more detailed guidance would be useful.

In its 2015 aviation strategy, the Commission proposed carrying out further studies and evaluations on Regulation 1008/2008/EC. In particular, it proposed publishing a set of interpretative guidelines on the application of the Regulation with respect to the provisions on the ownership and control of EU airlines to bring more legal certainty for investors and airlines alike. The Commission published the evaluation roadmap of Regulation 1008/2008/EC in November 2016.

Within the context of the ‘Aviation: Open and Connected Europe’ package, adopted on 8 June 2017, the Commission presented interpretative guidelines on ownership and control of EU air carriers and Interpretative guidelines on public services obligations.

In December 2016, the Commission proposed to amend article 13(3)(b) of Regulation 1008/2008 to ensure legal consistency of the regulation with an international agreement with the United States. Article 13 of Regulation 1008/2008 defines the conditions under which lease arrangements of aircraft registered in third countries are allowed. The Commission proposed to open the possibility to remove the restrictive conditions applying to wet-lease agreements for aircraft registered in a third country when a specific wet-lease regime has been included in an international agreement concluded by the European Union. In this technical adaptation, the Commission did not propose to amend the rest of the Regulation 1008/2008.

In the European Parliament, the technical adaptation of article 13(3)(b) of Regulation 1008/2008 was appointed to the Committee on Tourism and Transport (TRAN). On 27 March 2017, the EP appointed Claudia Tapardel (S&D, Romania) as rapporteur. On 27 April 2018, the TRAN Committee adopted its report, in which it proposed a small amendment in the Commission proposal. Namely, the Parliament proposed to grant the possibility to derogate from the restrictive conditions applicable to wet-lease agreements for aircraft registered in a third country, where an international agreement on wet-leasing signed by the EU, on the basis of an existing Air Transport Agreement signed before 1 January 2008 provides for a specific wet-lease regime. On 24 May 2018, the TRAN Committee decided to grant Claudia Tapardel a mandate for the inter-institutional trialogue talks with the Council of the EU on the revision of article 13(3)(b) of Regulation 1008/2008. On 30 May 2018, the Parliament confirmed this decision as a whole in its plenary session.

The European Economic and Social Committee gave its opinion on the technical adaptation of article 13(3)(b) of Regulation 1008/2008 in July 2017. In its opinion, it accepts the Commission's rationale for amending Regulation 1008/2008. However, it underlines that the new proposed wording should not allow a long-term wet-lease arrangement for reasons other than those included in Article 13 of the Regulation.

In the Council, discussions over the technical adaptation of article 13(3)(b) started at the aviation working party level. On 14 September 2018, the Austrian Presidency of the Council presented in this working party a draft compromise text on the technical adaptation of the Regulation 1008/2008. The approach followed in the text was very similar to the one adopted by the European Parliament. The general approach proposed by the Austrian Presidency was later, in September 2018, approved by the working party and in October 2018, by the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the European Union. On 17 October 2018, the representatives of the Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the technical adaptation of the Regulation 1008/2008. This agreement was later, in November, validated by the Parliament as a whole and, in December, by the the Council. The act was signed in December 2018 and was published in the EU Official Journal in January 2019. It is now in force.

In March 2018, the Commission launched a public consultation on the file. It also commissioned an external study. On 9 July 2019, the European Commission published its evaluation of the Regulation 1008/2008. The evaluation finds the Regulation to have been effective and to have generally ‘brought sizeable EU added value in creating the internal market by removing barriers to competition’. Objectives in terms of minimising competitive distortions, equal treatment of passengers and market efficiency are also considered to have been achieved.

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Author: Tania Latici, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 23/06/2022.
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