Phase two of EU-US open skies to be signed this month

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Phase two of the European Union-USA Open Skies agreement will be signed by the end of this month, according to Spain's foreign affairs minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The deal will be signed in Madrid before the end of Spain's EU presidency on 30 June, a spokesman for the Spanish foreign affairs ministry confirms Moratinos as saying.

"I can confirm to you that the agreement will be signed during the Spanish presidency, thus not later than 30 June. The exact date is not yet fixed," says the spokesman.

EU and US officials held second stage talks in late March and reached a preliminary agreement, which does not give Europe its long-awaited goal of loosening barriers to foreign ownership and control of US airlines. However, the Spanish foreign affairs ministry spokesman says that "there are no obstacles for the signature" because the preliminary agreement sets out plans to establish a joint committee to discuss the issue of foreign ownership and control further down the line.

IATA expressed disappointment at the failure to resolve the foreign ownership issue during the second stage talks. Any change to the cap on foreign ownership of US airlines would require Congressional action, and there is strong opposition to such a move from several members of Congress.