The Associated Press
3/10/02 12:05 PM
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio is proposing new regulations that would let the EU levy duties and restrict landing rights for foreign airlines judged to receive unfair government subsidies, EU officials said Sunday.
De Palacio is scheduled to present the proposals to the European Commission Tuesday. If adopted by the EU executive body, the plan will be submitted for approval by governments of the 15-nation bloc and the European Parliament, a process likely to take several months.
The proposals followed complaints by European airlines about the $15 billion aid package granted to U.S. airlines by the American government after the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the Swiss government's help in creating a new national airline after Swissair's failure.
However, EU officials denied the proposals were directed against any particular country or airline.
"We have a legal void to fill," said Pia Ahrenkilde, spokeswoman at the EU Commission. "We have to make sure there is fair competition in the market."
Ahrenkilde said the EU already has antidumping measures covering maritime transport and imports of goods, but no legislation for air transport.
She also denied the timing of the proposal was linked to the trade dispute between the EU and the United States sparked by Washington's decision last Tuesday to impose punitive tariffs of up to 30 percent on steel imports.
In recent years the EU has cracked down on government aid to national airlines within the bloc. Faced with tight EU controls on government bailouts, Belgium's Sabena airline collapsed late last year and several other national flag carriers are struggling.
Denied state help themselves, EU airlines are increasingly critical of government support to their competitors.
Copyright 2002 Associated Press