On 20 May 2019, the European Union and China have signed two agreements to boost the competitiveness of the European Union’s aeronautical sector and to strengthen aviation relations with China.

In air freight, China is the second most important extra-EU partner, following the United States. The signed agreements will boost the European Union’s trade in aircraft and related products, ensuring at the same time the highest levels of air safety.

The bilateral civil aviation safety agreement (BASA) will remove unnecessary duplication of evaluation and certification activities for aeronautical products by the civil aviation authorities in order to decrease the costs for the aviation sector. Moreover, the BASA will promote cooperation between European Union and China towards a high level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility.

The second agreement is a horizontal aviation agreement. With the agreement, China will recognise the principle of EU designation, meaning that all European airlineswill have the legal possibility to fly to China from any EU Member State with a bilateral air services agreement with China. Currently, only airlines owned and controlled by a given Member State or its nationals could fly between that Member State and China. The agreement will bring bilateral air services agreements between China and EU Member States into conformity with EU law, bringing legal certainty to airlines on both sides.

The agreements have been reached following the EU-China Summit of 9 April 2019 and fall within the Juncker Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe, which aims at encouraging the growth of European business, promoting innovation, and improving passengers’ flight conditions. The European Commission and the Chinese transport administration will now proceed with their respective internal procedures to put the conclusion of the agreements in place.