An international association representing European airports has called for “swift, responsive and responsible” action to unlock a stalemate over Gibraltar that is holding up EU aviation agreements.
Airports Council International Europe said the deadlock was damaging European aviation and economic growth.
The acting Partido Popular government in Madrid argues that Gibraltar airport is situated on a disputed isthmus and must be left out of the EU’s aviation agreements, despite Spain’s commitment under the 2006 Cordoba agreement to include the Rock.
But the UK is adamant that the Rock must be included, a position that was accepted by Spain’s previous PSOE administration under the trilateral process.
“We are committed to reaching a constructive outcome on the issue of EU aviation legislation and its application to Gibraltar,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
“However, the UK cannot accept the routine suspension of Gibraltar airport from EU aviation measures as there is no legal basis for excluding Gibraltar from EU aviation legislation.”
The Gibraltar Government acknowledged the concerns expressed by ACI Europe and echoed the British Government’s view that Gibraltar must be included in any EU aviation measures.
It said there were a number of EU aviation dossiers that were being “blocked by Spain”.
“They are not blocked by Gibraltar or by the United Kingdom,” a spokesman for No 6 Convent Place told the Chronicle.
“In 2006 Spain formally agreed to never again seek to exclude Gibraltar Airport from EU civil aviation legislation, yet in 2011 they decided not to honour what they had signed up to.”
“This U-turn has created the problem for the whole of the EU and the pressure should now be on Madrid to honour their agreements.”
“The Government of Gibraltar is clear that EU civil aviation laws apply to Gibraltar Airport by virtue of our terms of membership of the European Union.”
ACI Europe is the latest aviation industry association to express frustration at the block on important EU aviation packages, including a deal between the EU and Ukraine.
Speaking in Kiev during the 2016 AeroCongress, ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, said the Ukraine agreement had been stalled now for three years.
“Down the line – and alongside other external policy considerations – the Gibraltar deadlock means we are missing out on opportunities for growth and job creation that Europe so badly needs,” he said.
“This is the case today with the EU-Ukraine aviation agreement which cannot be activated, but also with the Single European Sky, where legislative proposals are also stalled.”
“Next in line might be the EU-Brazil aviation agreement currently being finalised, which might well be blocked for the same reason.”
Mr Jankovec said the European Commission had placed the aviation sector at the heart of its focus on growth, investment and job creation.
That strategy recognised the “tremendous value” of air connectivity for the EU economy.
“In the past, the Gibraltar dispute did not stand in the way and should not now,” he added.
“We need a swift, responsive and responsible solution.”
Photo by DM Parody