EU warns Madrid over flight deal with Washington

14th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

14 October 2004, BRUSSEL - EU Transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio has warned Spain if it signs a bilateral aviation agreement with the United States, Madrid will be hauled before the European Court of Justice.

14 October 2004

BRUSSEL - EU Transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio has warned Spain if it signs a bilateral aviation agreement with the United States, Madrid will be hauled before the European Court of Justice.

But as De Palacio issued the warning late Wednesday, Spanish and US representatives were meeting in Washington to begin studying the possibility of just such an accord.

De Palacio, herself a Spaniard, stressed that the 25 member states of the European Union cannot individually negotiate bilateral aviation agreements with the United States.

In a ruling handed down in November 2002, the European Court declared that eight of the 15 existing bilateral aviation pacts between EU governments and Washington were "partially illegal".

According to the EU commission, the agreements are "discriminatory," giving some European airlines an unfair advantage over carriers from countries that have not reached accords with the United States.

For example, carriers from EU countries without aviation pacts with Washington cannot fly to the United States - even from airports located within a nation that does have such an agreement.

Given the problems with the bilateral pacts, the EU members gave the European Commission authority to negotiate a comprehensive "open skies" agreement with the United States, but they subsequently rejected the tentative deal reached by De Palacio with Washington as it was "not ambitious enough".

The transport commissioner said it was "lamentable" that the EU nations could not accept "a quite-balanced agreement that could have fixed the current situation."

"Spain is in a difficult situation because it is one of 10 countries of the EU that does not have aviation agreements with the United States," De Palacio said, explaining the impulse behind Madrid's current overtures to Washington.

In July, De Palacio said, the commission opened infraction procedures against 11 governments for bilateral aviation agreements with the United States that failed to meet EU norms.

If the European Court finds the complaints warranted, the affected governments could be fined "thousands of euros" for every day the norms are not applied, commission sources said.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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