ASH CLOUD: EU to assess ash cloud's impact on air transport

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European Commission representatives are to establish an working group to examine the economic impact on air transport, and other sectors, from the Icelandic volcanic ash threat.

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso says the transport commissioner Siim Kallas will co-ordinate the group which will "fully assess" the effects of the ash cloud, particularly on the air travel industry.

In a statement the Commission says it wants to ensure it has "the right analysis to be able to respond appropriately, if needed".

"The volcanic ash cloud has created an unprecedented situation," says Barroso. "It is important that all measures to be considered are co-ordinated at the European level."

He indicates that an extraordinary meeting of the European transport council could be convened, and the ad hoc group - assisted by the European competition and economic commissioners - will work with Eurocontrol and other national authorities to keep track of the airspace closures.