State aid for airports and airlines: new regulation is not enough
The EESC regrets that the new guidelines on state aid in aviation fail to provide sufficient transparency
On 9 July 2014, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion on state aid for airports and airlines. Despite welcoming the new regulation, which has been keenly awaited by airports and airlines, the Committee regrets that due to unjustified pressure from regional lobbies and local politicians, the final regulation does not provide sufficient means to make the European aviation sector substantially more transparent.
"The European Commission has created numerous exemptions from tighter rules, and airlines and airports will unfortunately attempt to use these to continue benefitting from public funding. We must end the current race for subsidies. Only with transparent rules which factor in economic, market-based factors, can we guarantee growth for the European aviation sector," said Jacek Krawczyk, president of the Employers Group and EESC rapporteur for state aid for airports and airlines. He considers that the EU should carry out a detailed study on the state of public aid and similar practices. Although the EESC has repeatedly called for this, no such study has ever been drawn up.
The EU should closely monitor the implementation of the new guidelines to avoid any further watering down of the regulation. Competition cases brought by the Commission show clearly that no level playing field in EU aviation exists. Fair competition is imperative for European aviation in order to guarantee sustainable growth and enable European carriers to keep pace with global competition in aviation.
Jacek Krawczyk is president of the European Economic and Social Committee's Employers Group. He has served as rapporteur for many EESC opinions on aviation, and is a member of the Aviation Platform established by Mr Kallas.
For further information, please contact Leszek Jarosz, communication officer for the European Economic and Social Committee's Employers Group: leszek [dot] jaroszeesc [dot] europa [dot] eu.