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Brussels, 22 February 2007

European Union signs aviation agreement with Paraguay

Today, the EU signed an aviation agreement with Paraguay, which removes nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements and thereby allows European airlines to operate flights between any EU Member State and Paraguay. The agreement was signed in Brussels by Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot in charge of Transport, German Permanent Representative in the EU Wilhelm Schönfelder and the Paraguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rubén Ramírez Lezcano. The agreement demonstrates that there is an external dimension of the single European market for air transport.

Vice-President Barrot declared: "I welcome this further step in developing Europe's air transport links with Latin America. EU airlines now have non-discriminatory access to the air transport market between the EU and Paraguay, building on similar agreements with Chile and Uruguay. At the same time, the agreement underlines the EU's commitment to creating a more open international investment regime for aviation. It recognises the integration and cross border investment taking place in Latin America by removing the nationality requirements for Paraguayan airlines flying to Europe."

This “horizontal” aviation agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between the EU Member States and Paraguay but brings them in line with EU law, by removing the nationality restrictions contained in bilateral air services agreements[1]. Paraguay is the third country in Latin America (besides Chile and Uruguay) to sign such a horizontal air transport agreement. Horizontal agreements have now been negotiated with 25 countries worldwide and more will follow in the coming months.

[1] Such nationality restrictions have been found incompatible with EU law by the European Court of Justice in the “open skies” judgements of 5 November 2002.

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