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EU and Qatar reach aviation agreement

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EU and Qatar reach aviation agreement

Old 6th Mar 2019, 11:50
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EU and Qatar reach aviation agreement

European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - EU and Qatar reach aviation agreement

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.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "We delivered! Qatar was the first partner with whom we launched negotiations following our adoption of the Aviation Strategy for Europe – now it is also the first one to cross the finish line! More than that – the agreement sets out ambitious standards for fair competition, transparency or social issues. It will provide a level playing field and raise the bar globally for air transport agreements. This is a major upgrade compared to the existing framework, and our joint contribution to making aviation more sustainable!"

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. 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.
The agreement will benefit all stakeholders by improving connectivity through a fair and transparent competitive environment, and create strong foundations for a long-term aviation relationship.

According to an independent economic study undertaken on behalf of the Commission, the agreement, with its robust fair competition provisions, could generate economic benefits of nearly €3 billion over the period 2019-2025 and create around 2000 new jobs by 2025.

The European Commission negotiated the agreement on behalf of the European Member States as part of its Aviation Strategy for Europe – a milestone initiative to give a new boost to European aviation and provide business opportunities. The negotiations were successfully concluded on 5 February 2019.

Next steps

Following today's initialling, both parties will prepare the signature of the agreement following their respective internal procedures. The agreement will enter into force once both internal procedures will be finalised.


Qatar is a close aviation partner for the European Union, with more than 7 million passengers travelling between the EU and Qatar per year under the existing 27 bilateral air transport agreements with EU Member States. While direct flights between most EU Member States and Qatar have already been liberalised by those bilateral agreements, none of them include provisions on fair competition and other elements, such as social issues, that the Commission considers essential elements of a modern aviation agreement.

In 2016, the European Commission therefore obtained authorisation from the Council to negotiate an EU-level aviation agreement with Qatar. Since September 2016, the negotiators have met for five formal rounds of negotiations, in the presence of observers from EU Member States and stakeholders.

This agreement is part of the EU's concerted efforts to ensure open, fair competition and high standards for global aviation, in line with the ambitious external agenda put forward with the Aviation Strategy for Europe. Parallel negotiations with ASEAN are at an advanced stage, and negotiations are also ongoing with Turkey. The Commission also has a negotiating mandate for aviation agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Oman. EU negotiations with Ukraine, Armenia and Tunisia have been finalised and the agreements are pending signature.

Easyheat is offline  
Old 6th Mar 2019, 17:05
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So are they going to give passenger the same rights as EU carriers (as in delay compensation)?
  • Provisions on social matters committing the Parties to improve social and labour policies.
how are they going to do this?
golfyankeesierra is offline  
Old 6th Mar 2019, 17:08
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To me it will add up to higher fares on Qatar, but I may be wrong.
Hotel Tango is offline  
Old 6th Mar 2019, 20:27
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Good news
No more State Sponsoring from Qatar.
BluSdUp is offline  
Old 6th Mar 2019, 20:28
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Flight Personnel Union has commented:
luftfart.nu: (googletranslate)

A new aviation agreement between the EU and Qatar have been made. The agreement presented on Monday means that EU or Qatar-based carriers can fly freely between one of 28 EU member states and Qatar in the future.

It is the first agreement between the EU and a state in the Gulf region. In addition to traffic rights, the agreement also contains provisions on fair competition, social responsibility and the environment.

Just Qatar is known for its somewhat relaxed relationship with labor rights. The nation's airline has, among other things, attracted attention to firing its cabin crew if they became pregnant.

There was thus satisfaction with EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, who submitted the agreement:

"Qatar was the first partner with whom we opened negotiations for our aviation strategy for Europe - and which is now also the first to reach an agreement goal. And more than that. The agreement sets a number of ambitious standards for fair competition, transparency and social affairs, ”says Violeta Bulc on the agreement that has been 2.5 years underway, adding:

"It will create a level playing field and raise the bar globally for aviation agreements. This is a major advance over existing agreements and our joint effort to make aviation more sustainable. "The provisions of the agreement are thus not just about the fact that air carriers in Qatar and the EU can fly far more freely than today in the future. The agreement also obliges both parties to improve both social and labor policies, according to a communication from the EU Commission.

However, at the European Cockpit Association, ECA, which represents 38,000 pilots in 36 European countries, news of the agreement is received with some skepticism:

"Without undermining Qatar's role as a global player in aviation, it is only a country in a sparsely populated area that hardly matches the potential of the EU's vast market. Here, the question arises: Why is the EU so keen to conclude agreements that under-prioritize its own aviation market? "Says Jon Horne, President of the ECA, adding:

"I'm afraid, the answer is that aviation is continually regarded as a swap object in a broader macroeconomic or political strategy. But EU carriers and their employees should not pay the price of this short-term approach to external aviation policy. "

The EU's 28 member states represent a total of 500 million customers in aviation. It's more than 166 times the customer population in Qatar, which counts 3 million.

The uneven distribution of market access, respectively, by European carriers on the one hand, and Qatar Airways, which is Qatar's only carrier, on the other hand, with the agreement, is not the only concern:
»Today you hear a lot of praise from the social clauses and fair competition in the agreement. But we are waiting to be convinced that they will really make a difference in practice, "said ECA Secretary-General Philip von Schöppenthau, adding:
"By experience, we know that even the best and supposedly waterproof clauses are nothing without the political will and dedication of the EU to enforce them. We hope that true life will be breathed into the agreement and ensured that the opening of our doors will not be detrimental to our carriers and the quality of the jobs they create in Europe. "

Qatar Airways currently operates 225 aircraft to 160 destinations worldwide - of which around 40 in Europe - one of which is Copenhagen. Here, the company has two daily departures with a total of almost 600 seats.

The company is a strong competitor for especially European carriers operating in Asia and Australia, bringing every year up to 7 million European passengers via Qatar's main airport, Hamad International Airport.

In this perspective, it may seem unclear why the EU wants to further open the market for the rapidly growing company, points out Jens Ladefoged Mortensen, associate professor and EU expert at political science at the University of Copenhagen, who has seen the agreement:

"The EU has received a lot of criticism for not using the desire of other countries for market access to make demands on both environment and social problems. The EU has now begun to do so, but in the way that no sanctions are imposed. It doesn't say what's happening if Qatar doesn't do as it says in the deal, ”he says.

The Qatar agreement is also not extraordinary compared to other EU latest free trade agreements, explains Jens Ladefoged Mortensen.

But on the other hand, it is the first agreement that makes Qatar no longer be able to refuse to deal with issues that the EU must address - including unfair competition and social dumping:

"How effective an agreement is, time must show. It puts a soft pressure on Qatar, but the only real sanction from the EU will be to withdraw the agreement. "

However, while the agreement is primarily written in words such as "dialogue", "work" and "contributing to fulfillment", Qatar has been required to comply with the basic guidelines of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Although Qatar has just been accused of violating even wholly banal labor rights, Janine Leschke, professor at CBS and an expert in the international labor market, asks questions at the EU's opportunity to even make Qatar change course:

"As a rule, rules and directives decided at EU level are much more detailed than ILO standards and standards as those found in the EU-Qatar agreement," says Janine Leschke, who has also seen the agreement.

She points out that even within the EU, where directives and regulation are made, whose focus is on working conditions in a liberalized transport sector, there are still many undercutting on working conditions and, not least, the right to organize and demand agreement:

"Although we have recently seen some changes at Ryanair, this only happened after massive pressure from the staff, which in my view is unlikely to happen in Qatar Airways."

The agreement is awaiting provisional final signature, until the EU and Qatar have prepared their internal procedures for the agreement, after which the agreement will enter into force.
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