Discussions have been taking place between the EU and the United States since 2003 on a comprehensive aviation treaty. Following the latest round of negotiations, a revised draft of a possible first stage agreement will be discussed at the EU Council of Transport Ministers on 22 March. The draft agreement as it stands provides a range of traffic and other rights to the airlines of both sides. A number of these would be granted on a reciprocal basis, though some limited rights would be granted to EU carriers only during the first stage. It does not include cabotage rights for the airlines of either side during the first stage.
The level of air fares is a commercial matter for the airlines concerned. However, certain air fares from London Heathrow to the US are currently higher than those from equivalent hubs in other European countries which already have an open skies relationship with the US.
The Government considers that the best way to tackle the environmental impacts of aviation is through the programme of measures it is pursuing including the addition of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme, promoting technological developments and working closely with operators to make improvements through operational changes.
This is a strategic environmental approach which is not dependent on negotiations on individual bilateral air service agreements.