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Signing Ceremony US-European Union Air Transport

Remarks from Signing Ceremony for U.S.-European Union Air Transportation Agreement with U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, European Commission Vice President and Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, and German Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs Wolfgang Tiefensee

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2007

(2:15 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we managed to choreograph all of that. (Laughter.)

I'd like to welcome German Transport Minister Tiefensee, European Commission Vice-President Barrot, Secretary of Transportation, my colleague Mary Peters, our FAA Administrator Mr. Blakey, and distinguished guests from both sides of the Atlantic. I'd also like to thank the U.S. negotiator John Byerly and EU negotiator Daniel Calleja for their efforts.

We are here to mark an extraordinary achievement: a comprehensive, first stage, U.S.-EU Air Transportation Agreement. We embarked on this journey four years ago, when President Bush and European leaders at the 2003 U.S.-EU Summit launched negotiations that have now culminated in this pro-growth, pro-competitive, pro-consumer agreement.

Now every U.S. carrier can fly to every city in the European Union and every EU carrier can fly to every city in the United States. This agreement ushers in an era of unprecedented liberalization for an area that encompasses 60 percent of global civil aviation traffic.

The journey has assuredly not been easy. I am told that negotiators traveled through 11 rounds and I'm sure much turbulence. Yet they persevered. I want to extend my congratulations to the two negotiating teams for the commitment and hard work that they have demonstrated. The agreement that has been achieved here will not only benefit our airlines, communities, workers and travelers, but it also symbolizes our shared values and our historical cooperation.

This ceremony marks both an end and a beginning, as we have agreed to commence negotiations on further aviation liberalization starting in the spring of 2008. I extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes for smooth and for open skies in our future endeavors. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MINISTER TIEFENSEE: Madame Secretary Rice, Madame Secretary Peters, dear Vice President Jacques Barrot, dear colleague Mr. Steinmeier, ladies and gentlemen: It's a great pleasure for me to sign today together with Vice President Barrot for the European Community the first comprehensive air transport agreement between the European Community and its member-states and the United States of America. Today's signing is a historic start on the path towards a new transatlantic partnership and it was a hard work but now we are successful.

The agreement brings the two leading aviation markets in the world closer together. In future, European airlines can fly from every EU member-state to the USA. In the other direction, U.S. airlines can select their destination airport in the EU more freely. Transatlantic air traffic is thus based on a modern and reliable set of regulations. This entails facilitations for all European airlines and consumers. This was an important concern for those EU member-states who did not have an open skies agreement with the USA up to now.

With today's signing, we have made a first and decisive step towards an open and completely liberalized transatlantic aviation market. This now has to be followed as quickly as possible by continued negotiations for the realization of the more comprehensive vision which we are pursuing together. That is the open aviation area.

The further liberalization of the traffic rights and additional possibilities of investments abroad have already been included in this agenda. This means additional opportunities and fair competition for our airlines. It's a great day. Thank you very much for all who made these negotiations and I hope for a good second step in our negotiations. I am sure we will be successful. Thank you very much.


Commissioner Barrot: Madame Secretary Rice, Madame Secretary Peters, dear Wolfgang Tiefensee, President of the Council, the signature of this agreement is historic. It sets once and for all the recognition of the European Union as a global player in aviation. It will allow air routes from our member-states to U.S. to be serviced by any European airline.

Let us be clear. This agreement will bring many concrete benefits and it will bring change. Even before signature, different players in the European industry have been staking out their position in preparation of a new era. Partners on different sides of the Atlantic are considering how to develop further their cooperation.

Let me thank, in particular, Secretary Rice, Secretary Peters, and her predecessor, Norman Mineta. Your vision and support has been essential. I would also like to mention the wonderful efforts of two negotiating teams led by Daniel Calleja and John Byerly. To my American friends, I want to say the following. You have now recognized the European Union as a partner for aviation and we will live up to your expectation as an open and constructive friend.

This partnership will be important because we face many, many challenges. First and foremost, we have now completed our liberalization process, not only airlines, but also our financial institutions are looking for more progress. They want to ensure that aviation has the same investment and trading opportunities as other industry. So we need to press and weave the second stage.

Secondly, we face the major challenge of climate change and how to address emissions from air transport. Europe will work with you on green technology, on better air traffic control, dear Marion Blakey, and yes, we must talk about financial mechanisms for emission as well.

Finally, we must also now work together more closely than ever on safety and security. We need to protect our citizens when they fly, but we must not make their journey unbearable with uncoordinated security measures. So there is a lot of work to do, but with this deal we are giving ourselves an excellent basis for future work. Aviation is essential to transatlantic trade, and with this agreement aviation takes its place as an example of what the European Union and United States can achieve together. Now we must press on with our work to ensure that aviation continues to lead the way. Thank you.


SECRETARY PETERS: Secretary Rice, Commissioner Tiefensee, Vice President Barrot, colleagues and friends, thank you so much. I think it is altogether fitting that on this beautiful day in Washington where the skies are clear, we are celebrating this Open Skies Agreement between the United States and the European community. I also thank our negotiators, John Byerly and Daniel Calleja who did an incredible job with an incredible team behind each of you who made this possible today. All of those efforts have worked together to make this wonderful, this historic day a reality.

Today's signing of the agreement is the result of years of diligent efforts and is truly a cause for celebration. This historic agreement will spur more convenient and affordable air travel for both American and European consumers and promote greater access to U.S. and Europeans' market and further increase healthy competition among the EU and the United States. With this agreement, the honeymoon in Paris, the business trip to Dublin or the family reunion in Naples will all be cheaper, easier and within the reach of more Americans and Europeans than ever before. And people from every side and every single of the EU country will enjoy these same benefits when they buy air travel to the United States, that trip to Disneyland or Washington, D.C.

The promise of opening skies between the U.S. and the European Union's cities has already spurred excitement and anticipation around the world. Several airline mergers are eager to take advantage of these new opportunities and have undertaken a flurry of activity to expand flights and services. While this accord will undoubtedly create new prospects for business and consumers, it also serves a greater purpose. It will enhance the freedom that comes from international travel in communities across the globe. It will give American and European people greater freedom to choose where and when they want to travel and it will serve as a catalyst for greater transportation freedom in the future.

The freedom to travel is often underestimated, but it is a value that lies at the core of democracy. It allows our companies to compete around the world, gives individuals and families the ability to live and work where they choose, provides consumers the products that they want and offers all of us a greater choice to get on a plane and fly somewhere else. It is a value that is treasured by our democracy and one which we should always protect, promote and preserve.

With this historic U.S.-EU air transport agreement, we do just that. This agreement embraces the principles that are essential to our democracy and expands transportation freedom for millions of people who live oceans apart. Because of this we can look forward to new and strengthened relationship between our two continents for years to come. And as we all know in our world today, these friendships are more important than ever.

Thank you all so much. Congratulations on this monumental, this historic agreement and I look forward to the second phase and our continued success. Thank you so much.



Released on April 30, 2007


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