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Brussels, 23rd March 2007

European Union signs aviation agreement with Malaysia

Yesterday, the EU signed an aviation agreement with Malaysia, which removes nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements and thereby allows European airlines to operate flights between any EU Member State and Malaysia. The agreement was signed in Brussels by Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot in charge of transport, Germany's Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, and the Malaysian Minister of Transport Y. B. Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy. The agreement demonstrates that there is an external dimension to the single European market for air transport.

Upon signature of the agreement, Vice-President Barrot declared: "I welcome this further step in developing Europe's air transport links with Asia. EU airlines now have non-discriminatory access to the air transport market between the EU and Malaysia. In South-East Asia, similar agreements have already been reached with Singapore and Vietnam and more are under preparation".

The “horizontal” aviation agreement signed yesterday does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between the EU Member States and Malaysia but brings these in line with EU law. The horizontal agreement thus restores legal certainty by removing the nationality restrictions contained in bilateral air services agreements[1]. Malaysia has bilateral air services agreements with 21 EU Member States all of which have been brought on a sound legal basis by the horizontal agreement signed yesterday.

Horizontal agreements have now been negotiated with 25 countries worldwide and more will follow in the coming months. 70 countries around the world have accepted the principle of EU designation[2] either through horizontal agreements or bilaterally with individual EU Member States. In total, this has allowed nearly 500 bilateral air services agreements to be brought into conformity with Community law.

[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.

[2] The principle of EU designation implies any EU carrier is eligible to fly from any EU Member States to non-EU countries provided traffic rights are available under the bilateral agreements with these countries.

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