Brussels, 19 March 2019 – EurECCA expresses its concerns over the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) reached between the EU and Qatar after two and a half years of negotiations. The agreement, which provides increased access to each other’s markets, is in line with the EU’s quest for further liberalisation in aviation and its ambition to reach agreements with other 3rd countries in order to increase commercial opportunities for the European civil aviation sector.
However EurECCA has concerns in two main areas: the economic benefits and social protection.
The economic benefits of the Agreement seem to favour Qatar, which will now have direct access to all 28 EU countries, 500 million customers and a large cargo market, compared to the EU gaining access to only one single country in an isolated region, with a mere 3 million customers. This begs the question as to the EU’s motivation in making this deal which does no favours to Europe’s aviation sector, and we can only surmise that we are being used as a pawn in a wider macro-economic or political chess game.
EurECCA is also concerned about the radically different approaches to social protection, labour rights and employment conditions for workers between the EU and Qatar. While we acknowledge the EU’s negotiation of a social clause as a fundamental component of the agreement, it should be used to ensure the respect of workers’ rights and not be used to put European airlines at a disadvantage competing with lower social standards for Qatar airlines.
The Agreement’s social clause recognises that the violation of fundamental labour principles and rights at work cannot be used as a legitimate comparative advantage. Both EU and Qatar pledge to adopt and modify their domestic laws to be in line with ILO obligations. And the clause will apply to any future, more liberal bilateral deals that Qatar reaches with individual EU Member States. We hope that opening our doors will not harm European aviation business or employment and that the EU will have the commitment and political will to enforce all the aspects of the Agreement.