EC transport ministers want European airlines to play a bigger role in the forthcoming “Open Skies” negotiations with the United States.
They want the carriers both to take part in the talks and to lobby the Americans to get a better deal for Europe.
The EC's approach to “Open Skies” was discussed informally during the two day meeting last week of the EC council for transport, telecoms and energy in Luxembourg.
“No decisions were made. The ministers just exchanged views but they still plan to proceed along three tracks: improved access, the right of investment in the American market and a convergence of regulations and their policing,” spokesman said.
“But they did say they would consult their governments to get their national carriers more involved in the negotiations and also ask them to lobby the US.”
No date has been fixed for the resumption of Open Skies talks but it will be after both the new EC transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot takes up his duties on November 1 and the US presidential election on November 2.
The last round of talks ended in failure this summer after EC ministers rejected a proposed US deal. This would have allowed US carriers open access to London Heathrow in return for permitting overseas airlines a stake of up to 49% in American carriers.
The EC's demand for the right for European carriers to fly US domestic routes was rejected.
EC transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio described the offered deal as “unbalanced.”