Friday, October 30, 1998

Case Note: Case T-140/95 Ryanair v EC Commission - State Aid to Airlines

Judgment of the Court of First Instance given on 15 September 1998 Ryanair sought the annulment of a Commission decision in to permit under Article 93(2) of the EC Treaty payment of IR £50m state aid by the Irish Government to Aer Lingus in support of restructuring. This was the second tranche of a total IR £175m payment by the Irish Government. Ryanair argued that the Commission had made it a condition of the first tranche in 1993 that the second tranche would only be approved if annual cost savings of IR £50m had been achieved by the airline through the restructuring. When the Commission subsequently approved the second tranche, this condition had not been fulfilled. Ryanair argued that the Commission should have re-opened the Article 92(2) procedure before approving the aid in these circumstances. The CFI decided that this was not necessary. The Commission enjoyed a right "to manage and monitor" the implementation of state aid given over a period of time, and this included the right to reappraise conditions without reopening the approval procedure.

(Originally posted by Jason Campbell)

Sunday, October 25, 1998

Working Time Directive

The International Transport Federation held a day of action to protest about the application of this Directive. This is the largest sector not covered by the Directive. Approximately 3.5m transport workers are employed in the sector. The European Commission threatened to propose legislation for the sector if no agreement was reached between employers and unions by 30 September. Agreement was finally reached between the employers' organisations and trade unions in the railway and maritime sectors. However, no agreement was reached in the road transport sector. The Commission will now put forward legilsative proposals based on the agreement and a White Paper that they had produced in July 1998. [IP/98/792]

(Originally posted by John Downes)

Airport Slots

Commissioner Neil Kinnock announced plans to buy and sell take-off slots. In July, British Airways and American Airlines were required to relinquish 267 slots (without compensation) in order to obtain EU approval for their alliance. The plans for buying and selling the slots will require legislative changes and are unlikely to be effected before 2001.

(Originally posted by John Downes)

Milan Airports

The Commission has declared the arrangements for distribution of air traffic between Milan's two airports (a new airport was recently opened) as contrary to EU law. The effect of the arrangements is to give advantage to Alitalia. [IP/98/795]

(Originally posted by John Downes)

EU-Mediterranean Free Trade Area

The Commission has announced a strategy to establish a free trade area between the EU and its Meditteranean partners by 2010. The strategy includes close co-operation on customs duties. [IP/98/826]

Tourism and the Euro

A conference was held in Brussels on 16 October to help the tourism sector prepare for the introduction of the Euro. The new currency comes into effect in participating countries on 1 January 1999. The Conference was opened by Commissioners Christos Papoutsis and Emma Bonino and addressed best practice, training needs, and liaison with the banks. Further details are available from DG XXIII on 00 32 2 295 3736.

(Originally posted by John Downes)

End of Duty Free

Duty-free sales come to an end on 1 July 1999. From that date, sales on board ships and aircraft on journeys within the EU will be subject to the excise duty at the rate applicable in the country where the goods were loaded on to the vessel or aircraft. VAT will apply at the rate of the Member State of departure. These rules apply to intra-EU journeys, notwithstanding the fact that during the journey the vessel crosses into international airspace or waters. [IP/98/858]

(Originally posted by John Downes)

Greece and the Euro

The ECOFIN Council approved Greece's convergence programme for 1998-2001 which would enable it to meet the criteria required for it to join the single currency on 1 January 2001.


Three British tourists and five Turkish citizens are feared dead after their coach transporting them back to the airport crashed into a taxi. All five occupants of the taxi are believed to have been killed. A further 30 occupants of the coach were injured. The coach was taking holidaymakers to Ismir Airport when the collision occured. There has been some criticism in the UK of the standards of driving by coach drivers in Turkey. However, early reports indicate that the taxi was on the wrong side of the road at the time of the accident. The Turkish authorities have set up an investigation. (19/10/98)

(Originally posted by John Downes)

Scotland/Libya/USA - Lockerbie

Jim Swire, a spokesman for the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing has stated that he believes Libya has legitimate concerns about the proposals for a trial of the two Libyan suspects under Scots Law in the Netherlands. Libya has asked for guarantees that the two men will not be extradited to the UK or USA. The UK and USA governments have stated that their proposals are not up for negotiation. Mr Swire's daughter, Flora, was killed in the bombing. (2/10/98) UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, stated that, if convicted the two Libyan suspects would be sent to prison in Scotland. (16/10/98) The British Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenslock, has stated that Libyan witnesses at the Lockerbie trial would be guaranteed immunity from prosecution. (17/10/98) Lockerbie - The Facts: On 21 December 1988, Pan Am flight 103 from Frankfurt to New York via London exploded over the small town of Lockerbie in South West Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew were killed as were 11 Lockerbie residents. On 14 November 1991, the investigation by the Lord Advocate (Scotland's chief law officer) concluded with a warrant for the arrest of two Libyans, Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah on charges of murder, conspiracy and contravention of the Aviation Security Act 1982. The USA issued a similar indictment. Lockerbie Prosecution Team: The Lord Advocate has been accused of including a 'token woman' in the prosecution team for the Lockerbie trial. Morag Armstrong, 35, has been included despite the fact that she left the bar more that a year ago. Donald Findlay QC, one of Scotland's most noted defence advocates expressed surprise and concern and questioned why the Lord Advocate had not chosen one of a number of other noted female advocates with more criminal experience. (20/10/98)

(Originally posted by John Downes)

England/Stansted Airport

The British Airports Authority has announced £200m plans for Stansted Airport in the South East of England. It will also be seeking permission to boost the number of flights from the current 120,000 to 185,000 thus increasing capacity from 8m to 15m per year. (20/10/98)

(Originally posted by John Downes)