With its Communication of 9 January 2007 (COM (2006) 871 Final), the Commission seeks a mandate from the Council to open negotiations with Canada for the conclusion of a comprehensive aviation agreement. Such an agreement has recently been signed with Morocco (cf. Brussels Air News, Issue 20). The Commission proposes, as a first step in the negotiations, to bring the existing bilateral agreements between EU Member States and Canada into conformity with EC law following the “open skies” judgments of the European Court of Justice. This requires inter alia that nationality restrictions be replaced by a Community designation.

The existing US-Canada open skies agreement grants US carriers both fifth and sixth freedom rights and in this way the US carriers get an access, via Canada, to the EU-Canada market. The envisaged EU-US agreement would grant EU airlines fifth freedom rights between the US and Canada. It is therefore important that these rights are also obtained from Canada for traffic into the United States in order that EU airlines avoid finding themselves in a disadvantaged position compared to US and Canadian carriers.