Brussels, 27 January 2011
The European Commission has today requested Poland to establish transparent and non-discriminatory procedures for allocating air traffic rights between Poland and non-EU countries in accordance with its obligations under EU law. As a result airlines from other EU Member States may be excluded from flying on routes between Poland and non-EU countries. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If the Polish authorities fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law in this respect, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
The EU rules
Regulation 847/2004 lays down a set of principles designed to ensure an adequate exchange of information within the EU, so that Member States, in their bilateral relations with third countries in the area of air services, do not risk infringing EU law. In particular, it requires Member States to ensure that where a Member State concludes an agreement with a non-EU country that provide for limitations on the use of traffic rights or the number of Community air carriers eligible to be designated to take advantage of traffic rights, that Member State shall ensure a distribution of traffic rights among eligible Community air carriers on the basis of transparent and non-discriminatory national procedures.
The reason for today's action
Poland still has not established such a procedure although the Regulation entered into force more than six years ago Poland is the only EU Member State without any rules regarding the allocation of limited traffic rights on routes to non-EU countries.
The practical effect of non-implementation
The absence of such procedures in Poland prevents an EU air carrier registered outside Poland from competing for traffic rights between Poland and non-EU countries. This results in a potential exclusion from the market of EU air carriers wishing to operate in Poland, and thus infringes the very principles of the common EU aviation market.
For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/45