The European Union (EU) said on Tuesday it had finalized talks with Canada on an aviation deal to allow EU airlines to fly directly to Canada from anywhere in Europe and remove investment obstacles in the sector.
"Negotiators from the EU and Canada had initiated a few days ago a comprehensive agreement on air services in line with the conclusions of the EU-Canada summit on Oct. 17," the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said in a statement.
"The agreement will be a major step in the opening of markets and investment opportunities," it added.
EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said he had informed EU transport ministers, who met in Brussels today, that the negotiations had been finalized.
"The new agreement makes the EU-Canada market one of the most open in the world and is a milestone for EU-Canada relations," Tajani said.
Under the agreement, which is expected to come into force in the first half of 2009, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe.
Currently, EU airlines can only fly directly to Canada from their home country.
The agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU.
It also allows EU nationals to establish operations in Canada and freely invest in Canadian airlines and vice versa.
"It is groundbreaking in the aviation world as the agreement includes all possible aspects of aviation, including investment," Tajani said. "The agreement is an important sign in the current economic situation that EU and Canada want to significantly expand their relations."
The EU and the United States reached a first-stage deal on liberalization of the transatlantic aviation market last year. It opened air routes but still prevented EU airlines from taking over their U.S. rivals.