Ukraine, EU initial Air Services Agreement

Ukraine and the European Union have initialled the Air Services Agreement, Ukrinform's correspondent reported.

The intialling took place at the margins of the Eastern Partnership Summit on Thursday in Vilnius.

"The Agreement reached in Vilnius today will allow the EU and Ukraine to become partners in aviation through gradual market integration. It is an important stepping stone for our strategy to achieve closer cooperation between the EU and its neighbours, particularly in the context of the Eastern Partnership,” European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas said.

On behalf of Ukraine the instrument has been initialed by Head of the State Aviation Service of Ukraine Anatoliy Kolisnyk.

The Agreement aims to gradually open the respective aviation markets and integrate Ukraine into a wider European common aviation area. To attain these objectives, Ukraine will have to align its legislation with EU aviation standards and enforce EU requirements in areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, security, environment, economic regulation, competition, consumer protection and social aspects.

The Agreement is expected to offer further transport opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits on both sides: new investment opportunities in airlines will open up by allowing reciprocal majority ownership. This will facilitate the development of airlines and the consolidation of the sector; as from IATA summer season 2015, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Ukraine from anywhere in the EU. The same will apply for Ukrainian airlines; all limitations to weekly flights between Ukraine and the EU will be removed, and free and fair competition will help the establishing of market prices for all flights.

The European Commission received a mandate for negotiating a "Common Aviation Area" Agreement with Ukraine in December 2006. Both sides will soon start their respective internal procedures for the signature of the Agreement and its entry into force. On the EU side, the Agreement will be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament. Following the signature, the ratification process will begin.

The sides are expected to sign the Agreement in 2014.

Adapted from Ukrinform