OFFICIAL CALLS FOR EC ROLE IN US-EUROPE AIR SERVICES

OFFICIAL CALLS FOR EC ROLE IN US-EUROPE AIR SERVICES

European Community countries would benefit from conducting air transport negotiations with the United States together rather than separately, a senior EC transport official said this past week.

Robert Coleman, director general for transport at the European Commission in Brussels, called for the European Community to be given negotiating authority on air transport relations with the United States.At the moment, the United States has separate bilateral air services treaties with each EC country. The larger EC members, in particular, are reluctant to surrender their individual negotiating rights.

In a speech to the Freight Transport Association's annual conference, Mr. Coleman urged EC countries to change the situation.

"There are clear indications that the lack of a community approach leads to unfavorable negotiating results," Mr. Coleman said.

"In short, it is difficult to conceive of the community negotiating efficiently and effectively if its obliged to speak with 12 voices rather than one."

In addition to formulating an internal EC transport policy that is designed to ensure that each mode of transport is developed in a balanced way, the

commission wants to develop an external policy on transport matters.

This must recognize that transport, "perhaps above all other policies," is the one that takes the community "beyond its frontiers and face-to-face with our trading partners," Mr. Coleman said.

Bilateral agreements that distort the EC's single market in favor of one or other member states "cannot be tolerated forever," the official said.

The commission has just adopted a proposal to begin negotiations with Switzerland on road and air transport, while negotiations already are under way between the community and East European countries regarding inland waterways.

The community also is seeking a mandate to negotiate air transport agreements with East European countries.