Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-03-24-Speech-4-009-000"

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"− Madam President, the Protocol which will be put to the vote is a particularly important document. The aviation markets of the European Union and the United States, taken together, account for around 60% of world air traffic. Opening the market to airlines from the European Union and the United States on a non-discriminatory basis will offer passengers and freight operators improved services, provide substantial economic benefits and create jobs. My dream is for passengers to benefit from competition between airlines on the basis of market principles, for passengers flying in transit to the United States to pass through one security point, for passengers in the European Union and the United States to enjoy the same rights, and, of course, for them to be aware of these rights. Will this Protocol guarantee these things? No. Yet I am convinced that it is a step in the right direction, and that it will make it significantly easier in the future to achieve these goals. During the successive rounds of negotiations between the EU and the United States, it was touch and go several times whether the Protocol would be signed. Finally, however, we succeeded in adopting it. As a result, a number of risks were avoided, including the greatest risk of all, namely that the suspension clause would be triggered, which would have resulted in the suspension of the agreement and the annulment of the results of both stages of negotiations. This would have meant a return to the legal situation as it stood seven years ago, which would be unacceptable. Six of the EU Member States have no bilateral air transport agreements with the United States, and rejection of the document would have meant preventing these Member States from being able to operate flight connections between their airports and US territory. The second stage of the agreement does not achieve the ultimate objective of a complete opening of the market without any restrictions on either side, but it does contain a number of incentives to encourage reform. In particular, when the US changes its legislation to allow EU investors majority ownership of US airlines, the EU will allow the same for US investors. I am particularly pleased by the fact that the significance of the agreement’s social dimension is emphasised. In this context, the Commission should utilise the agreement to promote compliance with the appropriate international regulations on social rights, in particular with the employment standards set out in the conventions of the International Labour Organisation and the OECD, and with the Rome Convention. This will ensure better observance of existing employee rights by airlines. The agreement will also strengthen cooperation on environmental matters by requiring compatibility and interaction in the field of green technologies and fuel and air traffic management. In my capacity as rapporteur, I endeavoured to place the issue in a broader context and present both the positive and the negative features of the Protocol, without succumbing to the temptation to concentrate exclusively on its weak or strong points. I did not start work with the assumption that we must support or reject this Protocol. Following a great many meetings and discussions, I came to the conclusion that the EU will benefit much more from adopting this document than from rejecting it."@en1

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