Competition and trade law: Aviation deals prompt Commission action against eight Member States which have concluded aviation agreements with the USA

United Kingdom
The Commission has decided to pursue its legal action against the eight Member States which have individually concluded aviation agreements with the USA. It will send Reasoned Opinions to the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden. According to the Commission, these agreements create serious discrimination and distortions of competition by unilaterally granting US carriers traffic rights to, from and within the EU, while ensuring exclusive rights for their own carriers to fly from their territory to the USA. Further, in the Commission's view, the bilateral agreements do not safeguard the long-term interests of the European air transport industry. In 1995 and 1996, the Commission threatened legal action, but suspended procedures after obtaining, in July 1996, a mandate to negotiate agreements for the EU but which did not cover traffic rights. The Commission now hopes to extend the mandate to allow dialogue with the US over traffic rights (IP/98/321).