Air Transport World

One step forward, two steps back? The debate over right of establishment goes on--and on--but progress is measured in inches. (Aeropolitics).

International policy enthusiasts eager for a freer market in transatlantic air service are pushing for adoption of the principle of right of establishment for European Union and US airlines. Right of establishment means that a company, if it follows local requirements, can operate outside its home base as though it were a local firm. But RoE advocates have some immediate realities to tackle first.

One is the fact that last year, in a landmark decision, the European Court of Justice ruled emphatically that the European Commission has no authority to represent member nations in talks with the US. It also declared that three clauses--most importantly, the nationality clause--in 11 EU members' open skies bilaterals with the US, and by extension all bilarerals, violate EU law.

While awaiting their mandate from the EU's squabbling members, EC Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio annoyed many in Europe and the US with demands that members terminate their US open skies bilarerals, nor just rewrite them to satisfy ECJ objections. That in turn raised doubts over the body's credibility as a negotiator.

A lawyer suggests, "The Commission is interested in one thing--the internal politics surrounding a mandate. But every time it gets close to obtaining one, it does something stupid, for example, the letters requiring members to renounce their open skies bilarerals with the US. Everyone's reaction was, 'You can't give it [authority] to her."'

Interestingly, one demand Followed closely on the heels of an EC decision, six years in the making, grudgingly upholding the legitimacy of alliances. …

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