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Breakthrough In EU-Canada Negotiations On Far-Reaching Aviation Agreement

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

15 December 2008

Vice-President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani has announced a breakthrough in the European Union-Canada negotiations on a major aviation agreement.

Negotiators from the EU and Canada had previously initialled a comprehensive agreement on air services in line with the conclusions of the EU-Canada summit on October 17.

The agreement both completes the transatlantic market started with the EU-US first stage aviation agreement, and goes beyond it. The agreement is expected to generate major benefits for both partners' consumers, airlines and broader economies.

"I informed the EU Ministers on December 9 that the negotiations have been finalized. The new agreement makes the EU-Canada market one of the most open in the world and is a milestone for EU-Canada relations. It will be key in further stimulating EU-Canada transatlantic trade. It is groundbreaking in the aviation world as the agreement includes all possible aspects of aviation, including investment. The agreement is an important sign in the current economic situation that EU and Canada want to significantly expand their relations," Tajani explained.

Under the agreement, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. The Agreement also removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU.

Other traffic rights will be liberalized gradually in parallel with the opening up of investment opportunities. The agreement will finally establish a full Open Aviation Area between the EU and Canada, and EU nationals will be able to establish operations in Canada and freely invest in Canadian airlines and vice versa.

Furthermore, the agreement will help tackle common challenges, such as security or the environment. Both sides agreed to closely cooperate in order to mitigate the effects of aviation on climate change. In the field of safety and security, the agreement envisages mutual recognition of standards and one-stop security.

Specific provisions to improve consumer interests are also included. This will facilitate the operations for airlines and airports, and reduce hassle for passengers. The text provides for a strong mechanism to ensure that airlines cannot be discriminated against in terms of access to infrastructure or state subsidies, another real novelty in international aviation.

Building on the success of the European internal aviation market, the agreement is also an important step towards the normalization of the international aviation industry as it gradually removes outdated restrictions for prices, traffic rights and investments, and facilitates the cooperation between the authorities, including in international bodies.

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