China, EU sign milestone agreements on civil aviation cooperation


(Photo: Xinhua)

BRUSSELS, May 20 (Xinhua) -- China and the European Commission on Monday signed two milestone agreements on civil aviation, marking an important step to implement the consensuses reached by leaders from both sides during the China-EU Summit held last month.

The two agreements are Agreement on Civil Aviation Safety between China and the European Union (EU) and Agreement between China and the EU on Certain Aspects of Air Services.

Hailing the two aviation agreements as "a first big step", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "In an increasingly unsettled world, Europe's partnership with China is more important than ever before."

"The EU firmly believes that nations working together makes the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place for all," Juncker said in a statement.

The two agreements "will create jobs, boost growth and bring our continents and peoples closer together. Today's agreements show the potential of our partnership (with China) and we should continue on this path of cooperation," he said.

Feng Zhenglin, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said the two agreements will further promote cooperation between China and Europe in civil aviation fields while enriching the content of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

"Signing of the first agreement and its airworthiness certification annex is a response to the call for aviation industry development in both China and Europe, and is conducive to the two-way exchanges of civil aviation products developed and manufactured by both sides," Feng said ahead of the signing ceremony.

"The signing of the second one will remove the contradiction between the bilateral air services agreements signed by China and EU member states and EU law, and will provide legal certainty for the operation of air carriers from both sides," said Feng.

"The two agreements will for sure bring China-EU civil aviation cooperation to a new stage and a new high," he added.

"The two agreements ... are highly professional and reflect the broadness and depth of the two sides' cooperation. Both China and the EU stand for multilateralism and want to build an open world. Strengthening cooperation in the field of civil aviation is a strong example of walking the talk," Ambassador Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU who also attended the ceremony, said in a statement.

The main objective of the first agreement is to support worldwide trade in aircraft and related products, the EU said in the statement.

"This agreement will remove the unnecessary duplication of evaluation and certification activities for aeronautical products by the civil aviation authorities, and therefore reduce costs for the aviation sector. The agreement will also promote cooperation between the EU and China towards a high level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility," it said.

The second agreement marks China's recognition of the principle of EU designation, whereby all EU airlines will be able to fly to China from any EU member state with a bilateral air services agreement with China under which unused traffic rights are available, read the statement.

Up until now, only airlines owned and controlled by a given member state or its nationals could fly between that member state and China. The conclusion of a horizontal agreement will thereby bring bilateral air services agreements between China and EU member states into conformity with EU law -- a renewed legal certainty which will be beneficial to airlines on both sides, it said.