Friday

19th Apr 2019

Open skies agreement endangered by US Congress

The US House of Representatives has passed protectionist measures under the "air safety flag" which could endanger the EU-US open skies agreement, if approved by the Senate, the EU's ambassador to Washington, John Bruton, says.

With many congressmen elected on "protectionist platforms", the House of Representatives is becoming the US' branch of government which is giving in most to protectionism under different flags, including airline safety, Mr Bruton said on Tuesday at a briefing organised by the European policy centre, a Brussels-based think tank.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The former Irish prime minister, who has been acting as the European commission's ambassador to Washington since 2004, said Europe was neglecting the importance of Congress, which as an elected body is just as important in the US decision making process as the government or the White House.

Last week, the House passed a bill containing "language which would negate the Open Skies agreement", Mr Bruton said, referring to an aviation liberalisation deal enacted last year and allowing any European and American airline to fly between any point in the European Union and any point in the United States.

The provision passed as part of the budget re-authorisation for the Federal Aviation Administration requires FAA experts to inspect at least twice annually any European maintenance facility handling American airliners.

The bill's initiator, James Oberstar, said inspections of these facilities would "ensure that foreign entities conducting repair work on US aircraft adhere to US safety standards and regulations."

The move prompted the EU to freeze the enactment of an air safety accord signed last June with the US, warning that if tit-for-tat European inspections of repair facilities in the US were carried out, it would cost millions of euros for each side.

Some 400 European facilities maintain American planes, while in the US there are over 1,200 maintenance shops providing service to foreign airlines, including European ones.

Mr Bruton said it was now his "main task" to persuade the Senate to remove this provision, as it would jeopardize both the Open Skies and the air safety agreement, which to him were two of the biggest "diplomatic achievements" in EU-US relations.

He would also try to lift the remaining restrictions for European airlines, for instance the right to operate intra-US flights, as "Americans should benefit from the competition with European companies on their market, as EU citizens do."

The Open Skies agreement currently restricts EU airlines to operate intra-US flights, although it permits American companies to operate intra-EU flights.

EU-US aviation liberalisation deal goes into place

An EU-US deal liberalising the airlines market coming into force this weekend is expected to result in better choice for passengers and cheaper airfares. The European Commission said it represents a "revolution" in transatlantic aviation.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us