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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 30 May 2013

Air transport: Commission urges Belgium and Greece to proceed with ratification of the agreement with the Western Balkans on a Common Aviation Area

The European Commission is very concerned that 7 years after the signature Belgium and Greece have still failed to ratify the Agreement between the European Union, its Member States and the Western Balkans establishing a European Common Aviation Area (the "ECAA Agreement"). Lack of ratification of the ECAA Agreement by Belgium and Greece affects the crucial opening of markets in aviation with the Western Balkans. If the Belgian and Greek authorities fail to deposit the instrument of ratification of the ECAA Agreement in compliance with the relevant EU provisions within the next two months, the Commission would refer both cases to the EU Court of Justice.

The multilateral agreement between the European Union, its Member States and the Western Balkans on the establishment of a European Common Aviation Area, sets conditions for the gradual integration of the parties into the EU internal market for aviation. This agreement was signed on 9 June 2006 and its signing was approved by Decision 2006/682/EC of the Council of the European Union and the Representatives of the Member States. Article 29 (1) of this agreement provides that the agreement is subject to ratification or approval by the signatories in accordance with their own procedures, while paragraph 2 of the same Article stipulates the time of its entry into force following ratification by all the parties.

Furthermore, the Treaty on the European Union (Article 4, paragraph 3) establishes the obligation of sincere cooperation, according to which the Member States shall take any appropriate measure to ensure fulfilment of the obligations resulting from the acts of the institutions of the Union.

Belgium and Greece have not yet deposited their instruments of ratification of the ECAA Agreement. For this reason, they have not acted to ensure the fulfilment of the obligations deriving from the above-mentioned agreement as approved by Decision 2006/682/EC. Moreover, they have not acted in line with the principle of the duty of sincere cooperation established by the Treaty. The lack of ratification of the ECAA Agreement by Belgium and Greece is holding up the conclusion of the agreement and the proper enforcement of its provisions. It impedes the opening of the markets between the parties concerned and creates unnecessary obstacles to the freedom to provide air transport services. Furthermore, under these circumstances, Belgium and Greece do not facilitate the achievement of the Union tasks and the attainment of relevant objectives in the field of aviation in line with their duty for sincere cooperation enshrined in the Treaty.

Belgium and Greece have two months to respond to today's "reasoned opinion" from the Commission. If they fail to do so, the Commission may bring both cases to the EU Court of Justice.

More information

On the May infringement package decisions, see MEMO/13/470.

On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12.

For more information on infringement procedures:

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

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