While much of Brazil’s focus is on finishing the infrastructure projects urgently needed for hosting the FIFA World Cup this summer, beneath the surface the country is making significant progress to re-launch another “behind schedule” project – signing an EU-Brazil Open Skies deal.
On 31 January, the EU Commission reopened the stalled negotiations with Brazil on a comprehensive air transport agreement. Such an agreement will allow all EU airlines to operate direct flights to any destination in Brazil from any city in Europe without restrictions on route, prices or number of weekly flights.
As with other comprehensive air transport agreements, both sides will have to agree on and commit to a close cooperation on a wide range of regulatory areas. These include safety, security, application of competition law, air traffic management, environment, consumer protection, and – last but not least – social and labour issues. This aims at ensuring a level playing field for fair competition between EU and Brazilian airlines and equal rights and opportunities for all EU carriers.
But many of the clauses have already been put on paper before. In 2011, a comprehensive air transport agreement was negotiated, agreed and initialled by the two sides. Today, almost 3 years later, the agreement has still not been signed by Brazil and only recently the country requested re-opening of the negotiations, driven by ambitions for a broader trade agreement with the EU. As with other such agreements, ECA will push for a text that safeguards fair competition and ensures labour standards are not undermined by the open market.