Why is it important to safeguard competition and ensure high social standards?
In the last two decades, the share of European network carriers in global aviation has continuously decreased. Subsidised non-EU carriers have been and are still able to grow at the expense of European network carriers. This development is likely to continue if no action is taken to secure European network carriers’ competitiveness. The European carriers are not losing market share in several Southeast Asian and African markets because their products are not competitive: they are less able to compete because of regulatory, social and environmental constraints that some of their non-European competitors do not have to comply with.
In 2015, the European Commission published its Aviation Strategy, which – among others – aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the EU air transport sector, which is based on a regulatory framework that promotes EU values and standards, enables reciprocal opportunities and prevents distortion of competition. E4FC members welcome the EU’s ambition to step up in levelling the global playing field and addressing competition from third countries as laid down in the EU Industrial Strategy published on 10 March 2020.
Today, there are no international standards within the World Trade Organisation or the International Civil Aviation Organisation covering access to markets and social standards. The EU and its Member States, by including a robust fair competition article, therefore, set out the conditions for market opening with third countries through its air transport agreements in order to create legal predictability and to aim for regulatory convergence. In the absence of an EU-level comprehensive air transport agreement with such a fair competition article, the EU can apply its recently adopted legislation safeguarding competition in air transport, through which complaints could be submitted and due investigations could take place to determine if EU airlines have been harmed by unfair practices from a third country or its carrier(s).
European airlines can compete with any airline provided the playing field is level, therefore, E4FC continues its efforts to enforce international and EU-level aviation and trade rules, maintain high social standards and ensure fair and equitable competition and a satisfactory level playing field.