Brussels, 20th November 2007
Today, the European Commission proposed to open negotiations with Israel on a comprehensive aviation agreement. As part of the process of creating a Common Aviation Area with its Eastern and Southern neighbours by 2010, the Commission's aim is to establish an open aviation area between the EU and Israel, to lift market restrictions and to achieve a high level of regulatory convergence.
Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, in charge of transport said: 'Israel is a key partner for the EU in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The agreement will strengthen the aviation links between the EU and Israel and will establish a high level of regulatory standards, in particular in the fields of safety and security."
In its drive towards closer cooperation with the EU, Israel has shown an interest in negotiating a comprehensive aviation agreement, and is determined to reform the framework for international air transport jointly with the EU. Israel is indeed adopting a more open approach towards air services between the EU Member States and Israel. This shows Israel's strong commitment to engage in aviation negotiations with the Community that may result in the further integration of the markets.
An Open Aviation Area Agreement with Israel would create significant benefits for consumers and for the industry. According to a study conducted by the Commission, the EU is the most important aviation market for Israel, accounting for 54% of international air passenger movements to and from Israel. Similarly, Israel is one of the most important aviation markets for the EU in the Middle-East with a strong growth potential. Passenger movements between the EU and Israel grew at an average rate of nearly 3% between 1995 and 2005. This figure is expected to further increase. Israel is also a growing tourism market for Europe. In 2004, 1.5 million tourists visited Israel, 89% of which arrived by air. This represents an increase of 42% over 2003 and this trend is expected to accelerate.
The agreement with Israel would establish an ambitious framework integrating wider aviation issues such as regulatory co-operation in the fields of aviation safety, security, air traffic management, technology, research and industrial co-operation.