An agreement on establishment of a common aviation area between Ukraine and the European Union (the so-called Open Skies agreement) is expected to be concluded before the end of the year, the Kommersant Ukraine newspaper writes in an article. According to the article, the seventh round of negotiations took place about two weeks ago, during which the methods for implementing the European Union’s requirements in Ukraine and the operating conditions for airlines were agreed.
The next round of negotiations - the eighth round - is scheduled for October 21 and 22. "Progress during these negotiations will determine whether it will be the final round. However, if that does not happen, we are insisting that the negotiations be concluded before the end of 2013," Paolo Berrino, a spokesman for European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, said at the Routes CIS 2013 aviation forum in Donetsk on Monday.
The State Aviation Service and the Ministry of Infrastructure have been delaying conclusion of the agreement with the European Commission for years. Ukraine began preparing for the signing of the common aviation area agreement in December 2007. It had held five rounds of negotiations by 2011, when Borys Kolesnikov (Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister at the time) suddenly announced that the agreement could be signed only if the European Union abolished visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens. The negotiations broke down and resumed only last year.
According to First Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Kostiantyn Yefymenko, Ukraine proposes introducing an adjustment period for its airline companies - part of the provisions of the common aviation area agreement should come into effect only 1.5-2 years after the signing of the agreement. In addition, Ukraine is insisting on obtaining the fifth degree of freedom in the European market - the right to operate flights from European airports (for example, the right to fly on the Kiev-Munich-Paris-Kiev route).
The common aviation area agreement will allow Ukrainian and EU airlines to gain unobstructed access to routes between Ukraine and the European Union. At present, these relations are governed by intergovernmental agreements.
According to a source in the Ministry of Infrastructure, full market liberalization between Ukraine and the European Union is not possible before three or four years because a signed document will still have to be ratified by all EU countries. The third and fourth levels of freedom for airline companies - that is, the removal of restrictions on the number of designated carriers and flight frequencies between Ukraine and the EU - will be introduced in the first stage of liberalization. At this stage, Ukraine must bring its legislation in the aviation industry in line with European standards. Only then can the EU to grant Ukraine the fifth level of freedom.