The Council today adopted a general approach on the proposed rules for safeguarding competition in air transport. The proposal aims to ensure fair competition between EU and foreign air carriers operating in the EU. At the same time it seeks to maintain conditions conducive to a high level of connectivity throughout the EU. More concretely, it sets out procedures for investigating cases of practices distorting competition between EU and non-EU airlines and for deciding on redressive measures.

"Air transport is a major driving force of the EU economy, enabling advanced technological innovations, more jobs and better connectivity for citizens, both inside the Union and with the rest of the world. Once adopted, this instrument will provide the European aviation sector with a tool similar to those existing at international level in other areas of commercial activity."

  • Ivaylo Moskovski, Bulgarian Minister for Transport, Information Technology and Communications

The proposed regulation will replace an existing one which has several shortcomings and which has never been used in practice. While aviation is a global industry, there is currently no international framework under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) governing competition among air carriers.

Fair competition conditions between air carriers can be addressed in the context of air transport or air services agreements. However, most such agreements that the EU or its member states have concluded with non-EU countries in the past do not include fair competition rules.

The Council general approach provides for a single procedure that would apply regardless of the type of aviation agreement (comprehensive EU agreement or bilateral air transport agreement). Any redressive measures taking the form of financial duties would be adopted by means of a Commission implementing act. Measures of an operational nature will require a Council decision. Traffic rights are explicitly excluded as a possible redressive measure.

The proposal was presented by the Commission in June 2017. It is part of the Aviation Strategy for Europe, presented by the Commission in December 2015.

The terms of the final text will be negotiated by the Council and the European Parliament.

Draft regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport – Council general approach