Europe has begun putting forward its challenge against alleged US subsidy support to Boeing at a panel meeting at the World Trade Organisation and claims the US manufacturer has benefited from subsidies worth more than $23 billion.

WTO panel hearings have already been heard in the US case against European Union Government support for Airbus – notably challenging its granting of refundable launch aid - as part of the WTO dispute settlement process running in the transatlantic dispute over support for large commercial aircraft.

Now the first panel meeting is being held to hear the EU counter case brought against the USA over state support for Boeing.

"The core of the EU's challenge is the lavish R&D support provided by the US Department of Defense and NASA through various means, as well as Boeing-specific support provided at state and local level, such as subsidy packages tailor-made for Boeing in the states of Washington, Kansas and Illinois," the EU says in a statement.

It estimates the total value of subsidies offered by the US Government and US states to Boeing at $23.6 billion. "The support clearly aims at weakening Airbus' position and competitiveness and boosting that of Boeing," it adds.

The two sides took their dispute over the funding of large civil aircraft to the WTO after the US withdrew from the 1992 bilateral EU-US agreement in late 2004, challenging the granting of member state launch aid for Airbus aircraft.