The Communication of the Commission on a EU-India strategic partnership of 16 June 2004 states, that “in the transport sector, the EU should be ready to support India in making substantial efforts to upgrade roads, airports, ports and other sectors. The Maritime Agreement currently under negotiation will provide a legal framework for the development of EU and Indian shipping companies. Cooperation on air transport should be enhanced, in particular through the negotiation of an air transport agreement.”
The inclusion of India in the Galileo project is yet another example of the strong bilateral ties EU and India are developing.
The maritime agreement is still under negotiation.
Following the judgements of the European Court of Justice of 5 November 2002 (the so-called “open skies” cases) existing bilateral air service agreements between EU Member States and India have to be amended in order to bring them into consistency with EU legislation. Once, the amended agreement signed, it will also be a sound legal basis for further going cooperation in this sector.
As a next step a comprehensive Community-wide air service agreement between the EU and India could be envisaged. This would have significant mutual benefits by gradually opening up the EU-India aviation market based on a level playing field and regulatory convergence with regard to aviation safety and security and air traffic management.
In recent years the Indian air traffic market has been among the fastest growing in the world. In 2004, air traffic in India increased by some 25%. Since 1990, the number of seats available on scheduled non-stop flights between the EU and India has increased from 2.6 to 4.4 million in 2004 (+70%). Capacity on EU- ndia routes is expected to grow even faster in the coming few years.
With such a rapid development in air traffic, important new challenges are emerging. Market opening and attempts to attract private and foreign capital to the Indian aviation market are seen as part of the measures necessary to develop and modernise India’s aviation sector in order to meet increasing demand and consumer expectations. India has therefore in recent years taken decisive steps towards opening up its aviation market.
These developments combined with the expansion of the single European aviation market offer both significant new challenges and opportunities to all involved in the aviation sector both in India and within the EU. This is why the European Commission and the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India have decided to jointly organise the EU-India Aviation Summit on 23-24 November 2006 in New Delhi as a high-level and focussed event for taking important new steps in EU-India aviation relations into the 21st century.