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EU and Qatar reach aviation agreement

The first one with a partner from the Gulf region

The European Commission and the State of Qatar initialled today an aviation agreement, the first such agreement between the EU and a partner from the Gulf region.

The agreement will upgrade the rules and standards for flights between Qatar and the EU, and will set a new global benchmark by committing to strong, fair competition mechanisms, and including provisions not normally covered by bilateral air transport agreements, such as social or environmental matters.

Going far beyond traffic rights, the EU-Qatar agreement will provide a single set of rules, high standards and a platform for future cooperation on a wide range of aviation issues, such as safety, security or Air traffic management (ATM). The agreement also commits both parties to improve social and labour policies – an achievement which existing agreements between Qatar and individual EU Member States have not provided so far.

In particular, the agreement includes the following elements:

A gradual market opening over a period of five years to those EU Member States which have not yet fully liberalised direct connections for passengers: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Provisions on fair competition with strong enforcement mechanisms to avoid distortions of competition and abuses negatively affecting the operations of EU airlines in the EU or in third countries.

Transparency provisions in line with international reporting and accounting standards to ensure obligations are fully respected.

Provisions on social matters committing the Parties to improve social and labour policies.

A forum for meetings addressing all issues, and any potential differences at an early stage, plus mechanisms to quickly resolve any disputes.

Provisions facilitating business transactions, including the removal of existing obligations for EU airlines to work through a local sponsor.

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