Closed sky: why Ukraine has not joined European Common Aviation Area?

Author : Tetiana Vodotyka Magda Eugen

Source : 112 Ukraine

The bilateral dispute between Spain and the United Kingdom impedes signing the agreement on the issue
21:02, 18 October 2016

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Three years ago, it seemed that the signing of the Common Aviation Area between Ukraine and the EU (CAA) is a matter of a few months. It was predicted that after the increase proposal on passenger air transportation market and, consequently, the price for them would be reduced.

But in 2014 Ukraine was said that long dispute between Britain and Spain on the status of the airport in the territory of Gibraltar prevents from signing the agreement.

Ukrainian high-ranking officials and ordinary citizens could not believe that the adoption of the agreement, preliminary negotiations on which took some 7 years, was prevented by Gibraltar airport.

Agreement is not about a "low-cost"

We should immediately refute the idea that signing the agreement will automatically bring “low-costs” to Ukraine.

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The purpose of CAA agreement is the gradual introduction of legislation in Ukraine more than 60 regulations and directives of the EU aviation safety, aviation security, air traffic management and more. After that, Ukrainian carriers would have the right to enjoy unlimited commercial rights in the exercise of traffic between any point in the EU, if the flight is part of a carriage which serves point in Ukraine. Air carriers have unlimited EU law on commercial flights in Ukraine and within its borders. An additional benefit for Ukraine will be the recognition by Member States of all certificates issued by Ukraine concerning the crews of aircraft and air traffic.

But will the Ukrainian market become attractive for the budget "low-cost" depends on the solvency of Ukrainian passenger service cost of aviation fuel and ground handling rates at airports.

Why CAA agreement is not signed: expert opinion

According to the poll, conducted by "Europe without Barriers" in April-June 2016, experts called the two most significant reasons for the deposition of the signing:

  1. Lack of consensus between Spain and the United Kingdom to formulate the wording of paragraph territorial application of the agreement on CAA of Gibraltar
  2. Lack of political will in the governing bodies of the European Union to conclude agreement on CAA with Ukraine.

Expert opinions vary considerably. According to official data of the European Commission, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Transport, Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State and the opinion of the surveyed experts, the main reason for adjournment is really old dispute between Spain and Great Britain on Gibraltar accessories territory on which the airport.

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But the rest of the experts categorically stated that the issue of Gibraltar is just an "excuse" of the EU.

Interestingly, experts have called a number of related issues that slow or prevent the accession of Ukraine to the EU Common Aviation Area.

The most pressing domestic problems is the lack of a comprehensive plan incorporating EU technical regulations under the agreement, the problem of high prices for aviation fuel, lack of modern regulations to market and certification of ground handling services at airports in Ukraine according to EU norms.

Gibraltar issue

The bilateral dispute between Spain and the United Kingdom on this site dates back 1704 when Gibraltar, which at that time belonged to Spain, was conquered by England. In 1713, the states signed the Utrecht treaty whereby Spain gave Gibraltar to Britain with the right to restore its sovereignty over the territory if the UK loses this control.

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Under the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain ceded city lock port and fortress of Gibraltar, although the text of the agreement did not contain a map of the area.

In the early twentieth century because of disputes in the strict definition of the territory under the jurisdiction of the UK rock Isthmus of Gibraltar to Spain was named neutral territory. In 1934, UK has built an airport in this area.

The first debate in the EU on Gibraltar airport began in 1987 when the reluctance to admit a British airport on the disputed territory of Spain disagreed opposed the abolition of state control over trade air transportation. Under pressure from EU, transport ministers of Spain and Britain agreed on the Functioning of the airport of Gibraltar.

After a long break, during which bilateral relations between Spain and the UK is improved, it deteriorated in 2006 in Cordoba (Spain) under the trilateral forum "Dialogue on Gibraltar" was published The Council of Ministers. The airport of Gibraltar was gradually incorporated into the legal framework of the EU.

The situation changed after the victory of the center-right People's Party (Partido popular) in the parliamentary elections of 2011 in Spain. People's Party, led by Mariano Rajoy rejected the agreements reached in Cordoba in 2006.

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In September 2013 the UN General Assembly on Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy said that Gibraltar is the only territory in Europe, awaiting for decolonization.

"Ukrainian" Gibraltar

It was at a time when Spain and Britain reached the next round of confrontation, Ukraine has completed negotiations with the EU. Signing the agreement on CAA was scheduled for March 2014.

 At that time, the position of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar Parliament was in keeping Cordoba agreement in 2006 under which regulations, directives, and EU agreements (including the agreement on CAA) apply to Gibraltar airport.

Instead, Spain's position has changed. Madrid insisted on the exclusion of Gibraltar Airport from the scope of the CAA and in compliance Cordoba termination agreement.

Ukrainian agreement was precedent for parties. It became the first but not the only aviation initiative that is blocked by the EU through the aggravation "Gibraltar". Specifically, in December 2014, the Council could not approve the second package of the Single European Sky initiative, which aims integration of national air corridors to reduce flight trajectories, costs and carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

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According to experts interviewed by "Europe without barriers", the question of Gibraltar will block future negotiations with other countries to join the EU Common Aviation Area, as well as pan-European aviation processes.

Actions of Ukraine

Back in 2014, when it seemed that agreement is about to sign, the Ukrainian side proposed a compromise wording of Article 2 (31) CAA agreement concerning Gibraltar airport. When a compromise was not reached, the Ministry of Infrastructure together with the Foreign Ministry and the State Aviation prepared alternative wording of Article 5, which are transferred to the Spain and the UK.

During the years 2015-2016 the former Infrastructure Minister Pivovarsky met on this occasion with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Spain, Britain ambassador in Ukraine, European Commissioner for Transport and Regional Policy, the management of European foreign service ...

Despite statements by parties desire and even readiness to sign an agreement at the end of 2015, it is not signed.

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Opportunities of the core departments are almost exhausted, tactics closed diplomatic negotiation without providing public disclosure and involvement of civil society in Ukraine, and EU member states are not effective.

To develop consensus positions the EU must provide specific political conditions in both countries. But neither Spain nor Britain has not created these conditions.

We believe that the benefits of joining the Common Aviation Area Ukraine could get by solving the problem only concerning Gibraltar, but in the case of concrete actions by the Ukrainian authorities.

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