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Brussels, 9 december 2008

EU and Israel signs civil aviation agreement

Today, the European Community and the Government of Israel signed an aviation agreement which will remove nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Israel. This agreement will allow any EU airline to operate flights between any EU Member state and Israel where a bilateral agreement with Israel exists and traffic rights are available. In parallel, the EU and Israel started today negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement.

"The agreement signed today is good news for Israeli and European airlines and passengers, as it remove the legal uncertainty from the bilateral air services agreements” declared Vice-President Antonio Tajani.

This so-called "horizontal" aviation agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between the Israel and 27 EU Member States, but brings these in line with European law.

Horizontal agreements have been negotiated with 38 countries worldwide. Nearly 800 bilateral air services agreements have already been modified by the joint efforts of the European Commission and Member States to replace nationality rules with the principle of EU airline designation.

The agreement is an important step towards further strengthening the EU-Israel aviation relations and will encourage traffic between the EU and Israel.

Air transport is crucial for the relations between the EU and Israel, linking people, cultures and businesses.

The parties also started negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement with a view to establishing a Common Aviation Area between the EU and Israel. This aviation agreement will gradually open up the air transport market and provide for regulatory co-operation in the fields of aviation safety, security, air traffic management, technology, research and industrial co-operation, consumer and environmental protection and competition.

Vice-President Tajani also met with the Israeli Minister for Transport, Shaul Mofaz in the margins of the Energy and Transport Council where they discussed aviation issues of common interest.

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