Who could they be? It seems that countries from outside the European Community want to join the US-EC ‘open skies’ pact that takes effect in March 2008. Daniel Calleja, the European Commission’s director for air transport, told an industry breakfast in Washington that “already, third-country nations are knocking at the door and want to join this agreement”. The genial Spanish negotiator was not alone in noting this trend; former US Transport Secretary Norm Mineta says, “Other countries are ready to join” the pact. Mineta calls the pact “the first step toward a truly open aviation area between the EU and the US”. They spoke at a meeting of the Washington Airports Task Force, a business-government group that encourages service at the two Washington airports.
Speculation on the wanna-bes centres on Iceland and Norway, neither of them EU members but parties to the European Common Aviation Area, and on potential new EC members such as Croatia. Turkey has European hopes, but is hardly amiable toward the US these days.
Mineta was presenting a task force award to the four key negotiators of the transatlantic pact: Calleja; the EC’s vice president in charge of transport, Jacques Barrot; and that well-known Washington-based duet, John Byerly of the State Department and Jeff Shane of the Transportation Department. Barrot wasn’t at the breakfast meeting and the EC’s animated ambassador to the US, John Bruton, accepted on his behalf.