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Background

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  • No new calls for tender were published this week

Siim Kallas welcomes the signature of the Second Stage EU–US "Open Skies" agreement

Vice-President Kallas has welcomed the adoption of the 'second stage' Open Skies aviation agreement with the United States. In Luxembourg, Vice-President Kallas, Spanish Minister for Transport José Blanco and the US Ambassador to Luxembourg Cynthia Stroum, together with the Member States' transport ministers, signed the agreement. The full implementation of the first and second stage agreements is expected to give the economy a €12 billion boost as well as create up to 80,000 new jobs.  

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Airport services: infringement proceedings against Malta

The European Commission has decided to ask the Maltese authorities to correctly apply the Directive on the opening-up of the groundhandling market. The European rules on the refuelling of aircraft are not being complied with at the airport of Luqa-Malta. The request to Malta takes the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage in the EU's infringement proceedings (Article 258 TFEU). If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.  

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Rail services: Commission legal action against 13 Member States for failing to fully implement first railway package

The European Commission has decided to refer 13 Member States to the EU's Court of Justice for failing to correctly implement various parts of the basic EU legislation on opening the EU's rail market to competition, known as the "first railway package" (Directives 91/440/EEC, as amended, and 2001/14/EC). Important issues remain to be solved for opening up the railway markets to competition in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. Member States were required to implement these directives by 15 March 2003. Failure to implement these measures to open the rail market deprives rail operators of opportunities to offer services in other Member States and deprives rail customers of a greater choice of competitive rail services.   

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Commission supports international campaign to reduce fatal accidents at level crossings

The European Commission is backing the first ever international campaign dedicated to reducing the number of fatalities at level crossings, which has been launched this week. Each year hundreds of people across Europe die in accidents at level crossings, which account for one third of all rail fatalities and 2% of all road deaths. Road and rail stakeholders held simultaneous events in more than 45 countries on five continents to mark the first International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), which uses education to reduce level crossing accidents.   

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Commission and US agree to cooperate on civil aviation research and development

The European Commission and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have officially concluded negotiations for the establishment of a Memorandum of cooperation in civil aviation research and development. The two delegations, led by Hank Krakowski, FAA Chief Operating Officer, and Daniel Calleja, European Commission's Director of Air Transport, met in Madrid, hosted by the EU Spanish Presidency. The negotiating parties initialled the Memorandum and a first technical Annex promoting interoperability between their respective air traffic management (ATM) modernisation programmes: SESAR and NextGen.   

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Background

Open Skies Agreement

 Vice-President Siim Kallas, Spanish Minister for Transport José Blanco and the US Ambassador to Luxembourg Cynthia Stroum, together with the Member States' transport ministers, have signed the "second stage" of the Open Skies aviation agreement with the United States.

The Agreement provides clear commercial advantages, including greater access for EU airlines to the "Fly America" programme. The United States and Europe have committed to the goal of removing remaining access barriers and will review progress towards this objective on an annual basis. Additional commercial rights will be exchanged in the future subject to following legislative change. See below:

  • Reciprocal liberalisation of airline ownership and control. Currently, foreign ownership in US airlines is limited to 25% of voting rights. Upon legislative change in the US, the EU will reciprocally allow majority ownership of EU airlines by US nationals.
  • Airport noise-based restrictions. Subject to legislative changes in the EU concerning the process for introducing noise-based airport restrictions, EU airlines will gain additional rights to fly between the US and a number of non-European countries. Furthermore, a number of obstacles for EU investment in third country-airlines will be removed. Similar rights will be available for US airlines when the US laws allow EU majority ownership of US airlines.

The negotiators also achieved significant improvements in terms of regulatory cooperation:

  • The agreement will strengthen cooperation on environmental matters by requiring the compatibility and interaction of market-based measures (such as emission trading schemes) to avoid duplication; by promoting greater transparency for noise-based airport measures; and by enhancing green technologies, fuels and air traffic management. This cooperation is key to making international aviation more sustainable.
  • For the first time in aviation history, the agreement includes a dedicated article on the social dimension of EU-US aviation relations. This will not only ensure that the existing legal rights of airline employees are preserved, but that the implementation of the agreement will contribute to high labour standards.
  • The agreement will raise the already high level of cooperation on security to better allocate resources at threats to the aviation system by promoting maximum mutual reliance on each other's security measures as well as swift and coordinated responses to new threats.
  • The agreement further extends the role of the EU–US Joint Committee, the body that monitors the implementation of the Agreement and coordinates the various work streams of regulatory cooperation. The new rules will reduce red tape (e.g. by mutual recognition of each other's regulatory decisions) and avoid the wasteful duplication of resources (e.g. joint safety initiatives, one-stop security, facilitation of passengers' travel)

The European Union and the United States' markets are the largest aviation markets in the world. Together, they represent approximately 60% of global aviation. The economic benefits associated with the implementation of this second stage agreement have been independently estimated to be equivalent to the transatlantic benefits to be expected from a successful conclusion of the Doha round of trade. Following signature of the agreement, the consent of the European Parliament and ratification by all Member States will be necessary for its formal entry into force.

The potential economic benefits of removing the barriers to the EU–US transatlantic market are very significant (Booz Allen Hamilton, January 2007):

  • In economic terms, it could be worth up to €12 billion in economic benefits and up to 80,000 new jobs (spread more or less equally between the US and the EU).
  • It would create the possibility of an additional 26 million extra passengers on transatlantic flights over a period of five years This compares with current annual traffic of just under 50 million (2007). At the end of the five years, this will mean that the market will be 34% bigger with the agreement than without the agreement.
  • By eliminating the bilateral agreements and their restrictions on traffic rights, we could envisage a reduction in the cost of tickets for companies and private customers, with consolidated economic benefits of between 6.4 and €12 billion over a period of five years. The cargo market would see growth of between one and two percent.

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