Negotiating the Transatlantic Future

The Preliminary Joint Committee of the EU/US agreement will meet for the second time on 5-6 November. ECA will be part of the EU delegation and will work for the establishment of a Social Sub Group to address specific issues of concern for crews on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is the first time that social concerns will have a chance to be monitored and addressed in the context of an international aviation agreement. If this has been possible, it is not because of a coincidence; it is the fruit of a well prepared strategy and close cooperation with our American friends of US ALPA.

Preparation and strategy have been the key. Already in 2000, ECA realised that the EU wanted to promote a radical reform of the International Aviation Market. At that time ECA started an internal debate. Member Associations finally concluded that liberalisation could not be stopped and that ECA needed to be not a blocker but an active player of the process to ensure that fair and safe conditions would be guaranteed at the end of the day.

In the last 4 years the activity of the Commission has been frenetic. The EU has accomplished a record timetable of negotiations including:

  • Twenty nine "Horizontal Agreements", which derogate the national designation clauses and replaces them with a "community designation clause" in all existing bilateral agreements between Member States and third countries;
  • The creation a "Common Aviation Area" with its neighbouring countries including Morocco, the Balkan countries, Ukraine and the Caspian See Region and
  • Important agreements with China, Russia and the US.

ECA is a member of the Committee that prepares these negotiations and has obtained some real achievements. For example, the inclusion of social aspects in the EU/US Joint Committee, the inclusion of a "sunset-clause" allowing the EU to withdraw traffic rights under certain conditions, or the inclusion of social and safety clauses in the Common Aviation Area (e.g. the respect of the Working Time Directive and EU OPS).

On the 27th of November the EU and Canada will start the first round of negotiations for the conclusion of a "comprehensive aviation agreement". The two parties have expressed their intention to go as far as possible in the process of integrating their two markets. This could be an opportunity for our companies in both sides of the Atlantic, but also a trap for crews' conditions. ECA will be very active again in following these negotiations and in working together with our Canadian colleagues to make our voice heard.