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European Commission invokes safeguard clause against Bulgaria on aviation safety

European Commission - MEMO/06/504   20/12/2006

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MEMO/06/504

Brussels, 20th December 2006

European Commission invokes safeguard clause against Bulgaria on aviation safety

  1. Is the safeguard clause similar to a ban of BG carriers in EU sky?

The answer is no.

Its main effect is to exclude BG air carriers from the benefit of being considered a "Community carrier". BG carriers may continue to operate as "third country operators" to and from Member States in accordance with existing bilateral agreements. However they will have to comply with EU safety rules and might be grounded by Member States if found seriously defective during a ramp inspection.

  1. Is air safety at stake and if yes will you allow BG carriers to operate in EU sky?

It is clear that the situation identified raises concerns about the safety of operations. Therefore, the safeguard clause is without prejudice of further measures that could be taken by the Member States or the Commission vis-à-vis the BG carriers.

  1. Is Bulgaria Air to be put on the Black List?

The Commission is not targeting a particular company. We are urgently assessing the situation of each BG carrier and we will draw our conclusions which will be forwarded to the EU Air Safety Committee in February.

  1. Could an EU citizen buy a flight ticket on a Bulgarian Company after the 1st of January 2007 to travel from an EU country to BG?

Yes.

  1. Is the Bulgarian Civil Aviation Authority in position to perform all his duties?

Deficiencies concerning the capacity of the BG CAA to exercise correctly the oversight of aircraft personnel and maintenance organisations have been highlighted by the EASA report. These deficiencies are considered by the Commission serious enough to adopt the safeguard clause.

  1. Why this come by so sudden?

These difficulties have been identified last year already. In 2005, a joint EASA Member States inspection already identified several deficiencies and an action plan was elaborated by the BG authorities to solve the problems. However, faced by lack of implementation of the plan, a warning signal was given by the Commission in its latest Report of the 26 September 2006 on the Enlargement process, stating that improvements were urgently needed and the Bulgarian authorities were supposed to fulfil their obligations regarding this assessment. The attention of the Prime Minister and of the Transport Minister was repeatedly drawn to this situation. A new visit was performed by EASA before the date of accession. Unfortunately, it proved that the situation remains unsatisfactory.


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