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IP/10/239

Brussels, 5 March 2010

Georgia to gradually integrate into the European common aviation market

Georgia and the European Union have initialled a comprehensive air services agreement at a meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, today which will open up and integrate the respective markets, strengthen cooperation and offer new opportunities for consumers and operators. Following three rounds of negotiations over the past six months, the two sides have agreed to develop a "Common Aviation Area" between Georgia and the EU, within two years after signature, based on common rules in important areas such as aviation safety and security.

Welcoming the agreement, Vice President Siim Kallas, Commissioner responsible for mobility and transport said: "The comprehensive air services agreement reached in Tbilisi today is very important for further strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations between Georgia and the EU. Indeed, it will allow Georgia to become a full partner of the EU in aviation and gradually integrate Georgia into a pan-European aviation market. This is a very important step in our strategy of closer cooperation between the EU and its neighbours."

The agreement aims to open the respective markets and to integrate Georgia into a wider European Common Aviation Area. Georgia will harmonise its legislation with European standards and implement EU aviation rules in areas such as aviation safety, security, environment, consumer protection, air traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues and social aspects.

As a result of the agreement, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Georgia from anywhere in the EU and vice versa for Georgian carriers. The agreement will remove all restrictions on prices and the number of weekly flights between Georgia and the EU.

Similar agreements have been concluded already between the EU and the Western Balkan countries and between the EU and Morocco – both with very positive results. Currently, the EU is also negotiating agreements of this type with Ukraine, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Tunisia and Algeria.

The new comprehensive aviation agreement will provide significant impetus towards strengthening aviation relations generally between the two partners. Passenger traffic between the EU and Georgia has increased by an average of 10% per year over the past five years whereas cargo traffic in the same period has increased by an annual average of no less than 26% over the past five years. Today, there are direct flight connections between Georgia and nine EU Member States (Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland).

The European Commission received a mandate to negotiate a "Common Aviation Area" Agreement with Georgia in June 2009. Both sides will now start their respective internal procedures to allow the agreement to be signed and enter into force. On the EU side, the agreement will be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament. Following the signature, the ratification process will begin.

More information on international aviation relations of the EU at:

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air_portal/international/index_en.htm


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