Members of the European Parliament are warning open skies negotiators that they will reject "jam tomorrow" promises as Europe prepares for a fresh round of talks to liberalise transatlantic aviation.

The first stage of a deal was agreed by European Commission negotiators and their US counterparts earlier this year, with Europe's transport ministers subsequently backing the deal that will lift restrictions on flights between points in the European Union and the USA from 30 March.

The European Parliament in a plenary vote last week insisted issues not resolved in this first-stage agreement - including cabotage, right of establishment and ownership - should be hammered out at the next stage.

Some member states such as the UK have already warned they retain the right to reimpose restrictions if a second-stage deal with the USA on liberalising ownership rights is not secured by the end of 2010.

Brian Simpson, UK MEP and leader of the Socialist group in the European Parliament transport committee, says US aviation officials had warned him on a recent visit to Washington to expect negotiations to be tough due to continued US political opposition.

He says the European Parliament's principal concern was that the EC would back down and not achieve a balanced deal: "It's been a case of jam today for the USA all the way down the line, but only the promise of jam for Europe tomorrow. The fact is that the EC has to come back to the Parliament to ratify any agreement."

Simpson adds that "great differences" exist between the EU and the USA on aviation policy: "I for one would not be surprised to hear in the weeks and months to come that negotiations on a second stage air transport agreement have broken down because the USA would not move on key issues," he says.

The Parliament is calling to be kept "fully informed and consulted" before and throughout the second-stage negotiations.

Source: Flight International