EU Approves ‘Open Skies’ Agreement With Israel

A view of Ben Gurion Airport. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The European Union late Wednesday night ratified the “Open Skies” agreement with Israel, initially agreed upon in 2013.

The agreement allows any airline of the EU and any airline of Israel to fly between any point in the EU and any point in Israel.

Applied administratively by European and Israeli authorities to date, the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement between the EU and Israel contains a regulatory framework for aviation regulations between the parties, including fair competition, respect of labor standards, protection of passenger rights, and environmental safeguard measures.

437 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the agreement, while 102 opposed the motion.

Since the initial agreement was signed seven years ago, the number of routes between Israel and European destinations has increased significantly, prices have declined, and the number of European tourists arriving in Israel has soared.

There had been suspicion that the European Union would withhold its approval of the agreement, as a form of sanctions against Israel due to its annexation plans.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi praised the approval of the deal by the European Parliament and all its member states. “Approval of this agreement is an important expression of the relationship between Israel and Europe, especially in the fields of trade, research and development, and tourism,” said Ashkenazi. “Especially today, when the State of Israel faces an economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus and ahead of the renewal of aviation links, this ensures that Israelis will continue to enjoy low airfares together with a large number of destinations.”

Ashkenazi thanked Israel’s Ambassador to the EU Roni Lashano-Ya’ar and the Foreign Ministry “for the professional and fundamental work that led to this important achievement,” and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz.