EU rejects air transport agreement with U.S., seeks further talks
European Union transport ministers have rejected a U.S. proposal for an open skies agreement, saying they want further negotiations, Reuters reported.
The EU's council of transport ministers, which met Thursday and Friday, said in a statement, “urgent further efforts should be undertaken by the (European) Commission with the U.S., with the overall objective of improving the balance currently available.”
The European governments reportedly want the United States to allow access by European airlines to the U.S. domestic cabotage market. EU officials say U.S. airlines already have some access to intra-EU routes.
The United States has agreed to allow up to 49 percent of a U.S. airline to be owned by European investors, an increase from the current 25-percent non-U.S. ownership ceiling. But Reuters reported the U.S. is not willing to open its domestic routes to European airlines.
The European Commission and the United States have negotiated what could become the first open skies agreement between the two blocs. At present, the United States has individual open skies agreement with several EU countries, but these agreements were ruled illegal by a European court.
“I am very disappointed that the European Union council of ministers has failed to endorse this historic first phase air services agreement negotiated by representatives of both the European Commission and the United States,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said in a statement on Friday.
“We remain committed to opening up transatlantic aviation markets,” he said. “However, given today’s unfortunate decision, we must now review how best to achieve the objective.”