Ministers feel US proposal
falls short of expectations
The Financial Times is reporting that the European Union on
Friday rejected a US proposal for a transatlantic open skies
agreement, apparently because the offer does not provide better
access on the part of European carriers into the US market.
US negotiators are willing to continue discussions, but they
continue to insist that they cannot improve their offer without
changes to US laws that would be difficult to get through Congress
in this election year.
"We are missing a great opportunity to open access to markets
for the benefit of consumers, carriers, workers and airports on
both sides of the Atlantic," said Transporation Secretary Norman
This round of negotiations began last year, and the goal was to
implement changes that would liberalize the two largest aviation
markets in the world. Two of the most important items on the table
were the lifting of ownership restrictions that currently prevent
transatlantic mergers, and access for European and US carriers to
each others' markets.
Due to the legislative roadblocks, however, EU officials feel
that the best offer the US could put forth would still fall well
short of their expections. There had been some talk that EU
ministers would strike an interim deal, but it appears that without
any progress on access to the US market, this will not be the
Loyola de Palacio, EU transport commissioner in charge of the
negotiations, stated that while there had been some progress
on the issue of market access, "...this is considered not enough."
She also made it clear that in the absence of any progress, US
carriers could not expect to be granted any additional rights to
establish new routes within EU cities.
The strongest opposition to a quick settlement of the issues has
been the United Kingdom; they have repeatedly warned EU member
states that there should be no rush to make a deal.
The EU's tough stance on these issues is a reflection of strong
lobbying efforts on the part of members of the EU aviation
industry, based on fears that any quick deal that did not require
the US to improve its offer would have put them at a strong
disadvantage to their US counterparts.