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EESC supports proposal to amend regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is putting its weight behind the proposal put forward by the European Commission to amend the regulation that safeguards international competition in air transport.

During the EESC plenary session, the Committee appealed to the European Parliament and the Council to approve the revised regulation to promptly resolve distortions in international competition.

The EESC backs the Commission’s dual approach to safeguarding fair competition in international aviation, adopting the opinion drafted by Jacek Krawczyk.

On one hand, the proposal bolsters current legislation and hands the Commission an efficient weapon to counteract and prevent distortions of fair competition in aviation.

On the other, the EU aviation agreements functions as an incentive for third countries to keep in line with EU legislation. In return, they will be given access to the vast EU market.

“This proposal is yet another important step in the implementation of the EU Aviation Strategy, announced over two years ago. The future success of EU aviation depends on how effectively the strategy is implemented,” said Krawczyk, who added.

“Taking into account the importance of aviation for the EU economy, all stakeholders must be even more involved in the implementation of the strategy.”

The EESC notes that a level playing field in aviation between the EU and its competitors would only be possible if third countries also comply with basic concepts of labor, consumer protection and environmental standards.

The EESC thus recognizes the significance of negotiating “fair competition clauses” in international air service agreements and keeping up a functioning social dialogue.

The proposal would also bring in benefits to the economy as it would let EU carriers compete with third country airlines, thus bringing in more air traffic o EU airports.

The revision of the regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport (Regulation 868/2004) is part of a larger package called “Aviation: Open and Connected Europe”, which also contains guidelines in the following areas:

  • Ownership and control of EU air carriers

The Committee suggests that an impact assessment based on a number of scenarios be conducted to find out whether and how to revise the present regulation.

  • Public Service Obligation (PSO)

In the EESC’s perspective, the PSO guidelines would help achieve more transparent and consistent application and enforcement of the existing legislation.

The EESC stresses the need for wide-ranging debate on how to guarantee sufficient air connectivity not only for marginal destinations in Europe: it recognizes that EU Member States with lesser domestic markets also go through troubles in acquiring connections between their main airports and key destinations in the EU and beyond.

  • Air Traffic Management (ATM) continuity

The Committee emphasizes that at the EU level, the Eurocontrol Network Manager has already started the process of mitigating disruptions in air traffic management and that the social partners have already agreed on tools to lessen any negative impact of industrial action.

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