Eu/bulgaria/air Transport : Bulgaria Will Remain a Third Country in the Aviation Sector
In a historic move, Bulgaria will not, on its accession to the European Union on 1 January 2007, benefit from the advantages in the aviation sector procured by accession. The European Commission took this decision on 20 December on safety grounds, invoking the safeguard clause outlined in article 37 of the Accession Treaty. in practical terms, Bulgarian airlines will not enjoy the access rights afforded to their Community counterparts on European routes (between two member states or within a member state) or operated from the EU. In short, they will not benefit from the status of "Community carrier" which grants access to routes without specific conditions. This decision may be lifted at any time by the Commission, once it has been reassured regarding the shortcomings highlighted in the justification for its move.
This decision does not, however, mean that Bulgarian aircraft are banned from flying in the EU, rather that access to Community routes will continue to be governed by bilateral agreements between Bulgaria and the member states. Moreover, aeronautical products from Bulgaria will not benefit from the mutual recognition that normally goes in hand with EU accession. The member states will be free to decide not to accept such items. By contrast, the Commission has asked Bulgaria to comply with Community rules applicable to the sector, notably regarding safety. If necessary, it will not hesitate in launching infringement proceedings.
This is the first time in the history of the EU that such a decision has been taken in advance of the accession of a new member state. It is the result of the Bulgarian civil aviation authority's inability to cover all its tasks: monitoring the safety of the fifteen or so operators registered in the country. These shortcomings were highlighted on several occasions by Community authorities in 2005 and 2006 and have been highlighted by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). …