EU Attempt to Resolve Hushkit Dispute Dismays U.S – International Pages – Brief Article
The European Union (EU) this week passed a resolution to end the longrunning dispute over hushkitted aircraft that requests the U.S. retract a complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and sign a joint declaration of intent to establish a new global noise standard.
U.S. officials’ and industry representatives’ responses were muted. Many cited the possibility of comments further fueling the two-year dispute.
The resolution, which was passed by the European Council and European Parliament (EP) March 28 and 29 respectively, is being promoted by the EU as a constructive move towards ending disharmony between the two economic superpowers. “We are allies and friends, but something had to be done,” said Konstantinos Hathidakis, head of the EP’s Transport Committee. “Both Parliament and Council agree that the U.S. must make the first step to resolve this, and this resolution is intended to make that happen.”
“We do not want this situation to escalate,” said Dr. Caroline Jackson, chair of the EP’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy – the body leading the hushkit debate in Europe. “We need to find a solution through ICAO, but Europe is fully justified in taking the route it has taken to legislate against the use of certain airplanes,” she told World Airline News.
Behind closed doors the mood is far less civil. “We want to establish international noise standards and want the U.S. to join with us in discussing how we approach this. But now, since the U.S. filed for Article 84, we view ourselves under threat. Now if the U.S. does not comply with all aspects of the resolution, there is a strong possibility of this escalating into a trade war,” said Gilles Gantelet, spokesman for Loyola de Palacio, the European Transport Commissioner.
The U.S. filed a complaint, known as an Article 84, with ICAO because of an EU law banning the registration of hushkitted aircraft from European airspace from May 4, 2000. The application is used primarily for arbitration, although the United Nations body can sanction members. One possible outcome of the U.S. application is the revocation of ICAO voting rights of EU members Britain, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. The EU is not officially recognized by the UN.
U.S. Stunned by EU View
U.S. officials are perplexed by the EU’s stance. U.S. Department of Commerce Director of Aerospace Policy and Analysis Division Fred Elliott told WAN: “We want to see noise standards discussed, and we are willing to work with all members of ICAO, including the Europeans. But we want to work within ICAO.”
“All we have done is approach ICAO with a complaint that the EU has unilaterally breached an ICAO ruling – only ICAO can pass judgment on that. The U.S. has never asked for sanctions to result from our application. In fact we have openly stated that we believe sanctions should not result from this action,” he said. U.S. State Department officials reiterated these sentiments.
But some in the U.S. aviation industry are not surprised by the EU’s actions and rhetoric. “Since the beginning, the U.S. has been 100 percent right in this – Europe breached an ICAO ruling, therefore ICAO should be involved. But at every opportunity the U.S. has backed down and renegotiated. It wouldn’t be too cynical to ask if there was another agenda to all this,” a leading industry figure told WAN.
“What is worse is that we have Transportation Secretary Slater saying that the U.S. and EU are working together to resolve the hushkit issue, while at the same time the EU is stabbing him in the back,” he added.
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