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Time to celebrate Europe

by Laurent GUERBY Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 07:31:16 AM EST

There was recently a trade agreement between the EU and the USA for air travel. Here is what I can read in the press:

[...] British Airways CEO Willie Walsh, however, said Britain had to stand by its pledge to withdraw traffic rights if the U.S. did not open up to EU airlines. He claimed the EU had already given away its most valuable negotiating asset by opening up Heathrow.

"So far the U.S. has made no meaningful concessions," he said. "American carriers can now fly into Heathrow, Europe and beyond while their own backyard remains a no-go area for EU carriers and foreign ownership of their airlines remains unchanged."

U.S. carriers, for example, will now be able to fly from New York to London, where they can pick up passengers and fly on to Stockholm -- offering competition on trips within the EU. But EU airlines will still not be able to operate domestic American routes.[...]

Or here:

[...] Tory Shadow Aviation Minister Julian Brazier said: "Everybody is in favour of a genuine open skies agreement but that is not what this deal is.

"Britain will lose valuable slots at Heathrow, while America will continue to refuse access to non-American airlines on their gigantic domestic market.

"As UK airlines have pointed out, the value of the American concessions is minimal while we will lose a great deal."

And in french media

[...] Côté américain, certains analystes, comme ceux de la firme Calyon, reconnaissent que "les Etats-Unis ont obtenu presque tout ce qu'ils voulaient tandis que les Européens ont eu le minimum".

Ils doutent également que "la clause de sanction côté européen soit invoquée, quel que soit le développement de la seconde phase de l'accord".

From what I understand capital control of airliners and possibility to operate anywhere is  still much more restricted in the USA than in the EU.

Is there an EU anniversary to celebrate?

Nice gifts:

  • way more avoidable pollution (and tax subsidy to do so)
  • less freedom to compete fairly
  • all EU citizen private data shipped to shadowy USA institutions

And more EU citizens wondering if a wise use of the great power given to our EU elites are put to good use.

Did I miss a discussion here?

Some Europeans are positive :

Ryanair.com - CHEAP FLIGHTS - Fly Cheaper, Car hire, Hotels, Travel Insurance

Speaking today, Ryanair's Peter Sherrard said:

"Ryanair welcomes this Open Skies agreement because Irish passengers will now enjoy greater choice and lower airfares on transatlantic routes. For years prices have been too high on these routes because of Government controlled bi-lateral agreements.

"Ryanair calls on the EU to use this opportunity to apply the benefits of deregulation to airports too. In Ireland consumers are still paying for an absence of competition in this sector which is bedevilled by protected monopoly airports.

But indeed, this 'open skies' thing is the wrong battle:

EurActiv.com - UK wins delay in EU-US 'open skies' pact | EU - European Information on Transport & Services

Jos Dings, director of the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) said the deal was a serious setback to the EU climate policy, because it preserved "a decades-old prohibition of fuel taxation on transatlantic flights, the most important measure for reducing emissions from the sector". 

He said: "Just two weeks after the EU announced major new climate targets, it has given away airspace to American carriers but hasn't gained a clear mandate to combat emissions from those flights." 


EurActiv.com - UK set to back down on EU-US 'open skies' agreement | EU - European Information on Transport & Services

However, green NGO T&E (European Federation for Transport and Environment) warned that, unless the agreement specifically stipulates that US airlines must comply with EU regulation on environmental protection, it will be a disaster for the environment. 

With increased competition and lower fares, the open skies agreement will lead to 25 million extra air passengers between the EU and the US over the next five years. This will lead to some 3.5 million tonnes of extra CO2 emissions annually - cancelling out expected reductions from emissions trading, claims the NGO. 

It also says that "the current text makes it even more difficult, or impossible to include American carriers in European environmental initiatives", adding: "If American carriers cannot be included, neither can European ones because discrimination of carriers by nationality is prohibited under the Chicago Convention which governs international air travel." 

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 08:46:07 AM EST

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