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Brussels, 17 December 2009

EU and Canada sign Air Transport Agreement

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Swedish Transport Minister Åsa Torstensson for the European Union signed the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement. The Agreement had been initialled on 30 November 2008 in London and was politically endorsed by the EU-Canada summit on 6 May 2009. The agreement will be a major step in the opening of markets and investment opportunities and will generate major benefits for both partners' consumers, airlines and their economies.

"The new agreement makes the EU-Canada market one of the most open in the world and is a milestone for EU-Canada relations. It is an important sign that the EU and Canada are acting, not to close down their markets, but to remove barriers and improve links between people and businesses", said Antonio Tajani, Commission Vice-President responsible for transport.

As from now all EU airlines are now able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. The Agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU. Other traffic rights will be liberalised gradually in parallel with the opening up of investment opportunities. The end product will be that EU undertaking or citizens will be able to freely invest in Canadian airlines and vice versa.

Furthermore, the agreement will help tackle common challenges, such as security or the environment. Both sides agreed to closely cooperate in order to mitigate the effects of aviation on climate change. In the field of safety and security, the agreement envisages mutual recognition of standards and one-stop security 1 . This will facilitate the operations for airlines and airports, and reduce inconvenience for passengers. The text provides for a strong mechanism to ensure that airlines cannot be discriminated against in terms of access to infrastructure or state subsidies. This approach will be a real novelty in international aviation.

Canada is an important aviation partner of the EU. In 2008, more than 9 million people were travelling between the EU and Canada. There is already a close network of bilateral aviation relations. However, 8 Member States do not yet have an agreement with Canada, and many agreements are still restrictive and do not offer full access to the respective markets.

Aviation is crucial for bringing Canada and the EU even closer together in facilitating the flow of people and valuable goods. The opening of our aviation markets could bring economic benefits of at least €72 million and more than 1000 direct jobs in the first year. An additional 3.5 million passengers are expected to make use of the opportunities of an open aviation area between Canada and the EU within the first few years.

1 :

"One-stop security" means transfer passengers, luggage and cargo would be

exempted from any additional security measures when travelling to or from Canada.

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