On 7 June 2018 the Council of the European Union adopted a general approach on the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on safeguarding competition in air transport, repealing Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 concerning protection against subsidisation and unfair pricing practices causing injury to Community air carriers in the supply of air services from countries not members of the European Community.
The proposed regulation has been adopted by the Commission in June 2017 as part of the Aviation Strategy for Europe, presented by the Commission in December 2015 with the purpose of strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of aviation, and to help it cope with traffic growth and increased competition, while maintaining high quality standards.
The main objective of the proposal is to ensure fair competition between Union air carriers and third country air carriers, with a view to maintain conditions conducive to a high level of connectivity. To this end, the proposed Regulation lays down rules on the conduct of investigations by the Commission relating to practices distorting competition between Union air carriers and third country air carriers and causing injury to Union air carriers and on the adoption of redressive measures. As the Commission has noted, in the absence of an international framework under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) governing competition among air carriers, practices regarding the treatment of air carriers may differ from one country to another and affect competition. This is not the case within the Union where the EU rules ensure that all carriers, European and non-European, are granted the same rights and same opportunity of accessing air transport related services. This may, however, be the case in some third countries where discriminatory practices and subsidies may give unfair competitive advantages to air carriers from those third countries.
The Council general approach provides for a single procedure for investigations 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 final text of the proposal will be negotiated by the Council and the European Parliament.