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Greece EU Presidency Features Open Skies Policy

When Greece assumes the European Union presidency on January 1, for a six-month period, its transportation brief will include a member states’ agreement to award the European Commission a wide-ranging mandate to negotiate a bilateral USA-EU “open skies” agreement.

Other areas of the brief regarding the Union’s common transport policy will focus on trans-European networks, the transatlantic common aviation area, road safety and the billing of transport services, said Greece’s transport and communications minister, Christos Verelis, during a recent European tour.

Furthermore, he said, Athens would push for an EU resolution setting out concrete steps to implement the Commission’s five-year plan to harmonize road safety standards across the EU. Regarding the commission’s proposals to pass common, EU-wide billing standards for transport services, the Greek presidency intends to enhance the relevant debate by recording member states’ reactions on the issue.

Separately, sources said the country’s development and transport ministries are working closely in view of a planned EU regulation that would equate charter with scheduled flights as regards consumers’ compensation clauses.

Such an equality of rules would most likely put Greece at a disadvantage because of its strong dependence on charter flights, which would most likely become more expensive.

Greece welcomed a recent EU announcement that it would implement an open skies policy. Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis told reporters such a pact would help to reduce flight delays and improve safety.

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