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EU External Aviation Policy

Tailored Approach towards Third Countries
The EC external aviation policy is based on the following three pillars:

  1. Horizontal agreements with third countries to bring existing bilateral agreements between European and non-European countries in line with Community law, by removing nationality restrictions in these bilateral agreements.
  2. Common Aviation Area with neighboring countries including Mediterranean countries. These agreements open the skies between the two parties in addition to a gradual regulatory convergence in areas like safety, air navigation, environment, competition laws and passenger rights.
  3. Comprehensive agreements with selected countries around the world to set up open aviation areas with global partners. 


Communication on the EU's External Aviation Policy - Addressing Future Challenges (2012)
The EC published a Communication on 27 September 2012 on the EU External Aviation Policy.

The EU Council adopted on 20 December the proposed EU external aviation policy. The decision of the Council is considered guidance to a potential EU law on the External Aviation Policy to be proposed by the EC. The Council has concluded the following in particular:

  • Encouraged the Commission to reach comprehensive EU-level agreements with all neighboring countries by 2015;
  • Acknowledged the Commission's intention to engage in a dialogue with Gulf countries with a view to enhancing transparency and fair competition;
  • Supported the Commission's intention to present a proposal for a revision or replacement of Regulation 868/2004 concerning protection against “subsidization” and “unfair practices”;
  • Welcomed the Commission's intention to develop a template for a "fair competition clause" for inclusion in air services agreements with partner countries;

AACO, under the umbrella of AACO Aeropolitical Watch Group, formulated a position with regards to the EC Communication which was communicated with the EC. To view the position, please click here.


EU Aviation Package 2015
On 19 March 2015, the European Commission published a consultation that will feed into the “Aviation Package 2015” that the EC is working on. AACO responded to this consultation basically bringing focus to two major issues that need the attention of regulators in the EU, one is aviation infrastructure (congestion at airports and air traffic management), and the second is the relatively high tax environment imposed on the aviation sector. 

To view AACO’s full response to the consultation, please click here.


Following the consultation, the EC published the "Aviation Strategy for Europe" on 7 December 2015. 


In December 2015, AACO 48th AGM also adopted a resolution on the Relations with the European Union following the publication of the EU Aviation Package of 2015. To view the full text of the resolution, please click here.


Relations between the European Union and Some Arab States

EU - Morocco: The first Euro-Mediterranean Aviation agreement in the field of aviation was signed on 12 December 2006 between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco. This comprehensive agreement allows all EU and Morocco airlines to operate direct flights between any airport in the EU and Morocco. It also covers a wide range of aviation issues.

EU - Jordan: A Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement was signed on 15 December 2010. This agreement provides for the abolition of all restrictions on capacity and frequency between the two parties.

EU - Tunisia: A comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean agreement between the EU and Tunisia has been initialed on 11 December 2017. Communication from the EC on creating a Common Aviation Area with Tunisia

EU - Qatar: In 2021, the EU and Qatar signed a comprehensive air transport agreement for flights, by which all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights from any airport in the EU to Qatar and vice versa for Qatari airlines. EU airports in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands will be subject to a gradual build-up of capacity until 2024. Following the signature of the aviation agreement, both parties are immediately able to exercise third and fourth freedom traffic rights between any airport in the EU and Qatar and vice versa.

EU - Oman: In 2021, the EU and Oman initialed a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement to establish a more liberalized air traffic accord between the two parties. The Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement paves the way for the Sultanate of Oman to increase flight frequencies on existing European routes and add other European destinations for the national carrier Oman Air (WY) and Salam Air (OV). Reciprocally, the Agreement will allow EU airlines to fly to all Omani airports from their home country or from any other EU Member State.. This Agreement acts as a first step in a planned 5-year implementation leading up to a fully formalized open skies accord.

EU - UAE: The EU and the United Arab Emirates signed a horizontal air transport agreement on 30 November 2007 which allows EU airlines to fly between the United Arab Emirates and any EU Member State. The agreement allows any EU airline to operate flights between the UAE and any EU Member State where it is established and where a bilateral agreement with the UAE exists and traffic rights are available. In 2016, the European Commission obtained a mandate to negotiate EU-level comprehensive aviation agreement with the UAE.

EU - Lebanon: A horizontal agreement with Lebanon was signed on 7 July 2006. This agreement allows any EU airline to operate flights between Lebanon and any EU Member State where it is established and where a bilateral agreement with Lebanon exists and traffic rights are available. The horizontal agreement has been ratified in 2017 and is in force.

EU - Kuwait: The European Commission requested the Council to authorize the negotiation an EU-level aviation agreement with Kuwait.

EU - Saudi Arabia: The European Commission requested the Council to authorize the negotiation an EU-level aviation agreement with Saudi Arabia. In 2010, the EU and Saudi Arabia initialed a horizontal agreement.

EU - Bahrain: The European Commission requested the Council to authorize the negotiation of an EU-level aviation agreement with Bahrain.


Last updated in December 2021

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