The European Commission and Qatar have agreed to sign the first aviation agreement between the EU and a Gulf region partner.
The agreement commits both parties to an updated set of rules and standards governing factors such as competition, air safety and social standards in aviation; with particular focus on improving social and labour policies in the sector – an aspect which had not been present in previous agreements between the EU and Qatar. Developments laid out in the agreement include:
- Direct air connections with Qatar to open over the next five years for Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands;
- Fair competition provisions, to be strictly enforced, encompassing mechanisms to avoid artificial distortion of market competition dynamics or abuses of the system which could negatively affect EU-based airlines;
- Provisions to ensure full transparency in line with international accounting and reporting standards;
- Removing the current obligation for EU airlines operating in Qatar to work alongside a local sponsor, among other provisions facilitating commercial transactions;
- Commitment from both parties to improve and ensure a degree of fairness in their existing social and labour policies; and
- The establishment of a forum for meetings to address any concerns or disputes between parties.
Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, said: “We delivered: Qatar was the first partner with whom we launched negotiations following our adoption of the Aviation Strategy for Europe; now it is also the first one to cross the finish line. More than that – the agreement sets out ambitious standards for fair competition, transparency or social issues. It will provide a level playing field and raise the bar globally for air transport agreements. This is a major upgrade compared to the existing framework, and our joint contribution to making aviation more sustainable.”
The EU-Qatar aviation agreement, which was initialled by negotiators yesterday, will be signed in full once it has passed the requisite internal approval procedures of each signatory.