Cablegate: Spain: Readout On Us-Eu Open Skies Negotiations

Published: Wed 19 May 2004 04:36 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: A. STATE 91041
B. 03 MADRID 4336
1. SUMMARY: We spoke May 18 with Deputy Director for Air
Transportation Development Eugenia Llorens, who participated
in the latest round of US-EU open skies negotiations, about
matters contained in Reftel A and her views on the possible
outcome of the negotiations and its implications for Spain.
Llorens was uncertain whether this round of negotiations
would be successful, but awaits information on an anticipated
USG revised proposal. She does not consider the US-Ireland
negotiations to involve open skies issues, and therefore does
not view them as a "green light" from Brussels to negotiate
bilaterally. She understands the importance to Spanish
carriers of achieving an open skies agreement, but does not
yet know whether the new Socialist government will be
receptive to negotiating a bilateral agreement if an early
harvest US-EU agreement cannot be reached by the June US-EU
Summit. She will soon brief the new Director General of
Civil Aviation regarding these issues. END SUMMARY.
2. We shared ref A talking points with Llorens who demurred
until consulting with her new political leadership. When
asked for her views on the latest round of US-EU open skies
negotiations, Llorens said that the "big uncertainty" is
market access in the US. Llorens seemed doubtful that the
anticipated new US proposal will meet EU demands for greater
access and be accepted by member states. She also lamented
the delays that would result in failure to achieve an early
harvest as some of the negotiators will be changing in the
3. Llorens does not yet know what stance the newly-elected
Socialist GOS will take on bilateral negotiations should the
goal of a US-EU early harvest fail, noting that Manuel
Bautista Perez, the new Director General for Civil Aviation,
just took office last week and has not yet been briefed on
these matters. She acknowledged that the GOS must clarify
its position on this matter, mentioning that Spanish airlines
are still exposed to potential antitrust action for lack of
an open skies agreement.
4. Llorens acknowledged Ireland's current discussions with
the US, but does not view the US-Ireland discussions to be
true open skies bilateral negotiations. She described the
subject matter as a "very localistic issue" pertaining to the
percentage of trans-Atlantic flights that must stop in
Shannon rather than fly direct from the US to Dublin over the
next few years. She stated that the terms lack any antitrust
component, implying that Ireland,s negotiations do not
signal EC approval for new bilateral open skies negotiations
between member states and the US, as we previously proposed
to her (see Reftel B).
5. COMMENT: Like the government it replaced, Spain's new
government could continue wrestling with the
mutually-exclusive desire to protect domestic commercial
interests through a bilateral open skies agreement versus
following the lead from Brussels and awaiting an eventual
US-EU agreement. The previous GOS generally did not oppose
the instructions of Spanish EU Commissioner for Transport and
Energy Loyola de Palacio regarding civil air matters. This
led to Spain's reluctance to pursue Iberia's desire for an
agreement. The new Socialist government may be more open
than the last to move against de Palacio or her successor.
Still, with its announced plans to be closer to Europe than
the past administration, it remains to be seen under what
conditions the new GOS would enter into bilateral open skies
discussions with the US. Llorens promised that the Embassy's
request to meet with Director General Bautista will be
granted prior to the June Transport Council meeting. END
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