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EU - China aviation agreements

21 May 2019
by eub2 -- last modified 21 May 2019

The European Union and China signed on 20 May 2019 an agreement on civil aviation safety and a horizontal aviation agreement to strengthen their aviation cooperation.


The goal of Europe's Aviation Strategy is to ensure the best possible connectivity for passengers and businesses, whilst maintaining high standards for safety, fair competition, the environment and social issues.

The Commission received in 2016 mandates from the Council to negotiate aviation agreements with a number of third countries on behalf of EU Member States.

Two aviation agreements have now been successfully concluded with China.

What are the benefits of the two EU-China aviation agreements?

The bilateral civil aviation safety agreement (BASA) will remove unnecessary duplication of evaluation and certification activities for aeronautical products by the civil aviation authorities, and therefore reduce costs for the aviation sector and facilitate market access of European aeronautical companies to the very important Chinese market.

The BASA will also promote cooperation between the EU and China towards a high level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility. With the horizontal aviation agreement China recognises the principle of EU designation.

This means that all EU airlines will have the legal possibility to fly to China from any EU Member State with a bilateral air services agreement with China. Up until now, only airlines owned and controlled by a given Member State or its nationals could fly between that Member State and China.

Therefore, the horizontal agreement will bring bilateral air services agreements between China and EU Member States into conformity with EU law - a renewed legal certainty which will be beneficial to airlines on both sides.

I am an EU citizen – what is in it for me?

The agreements will enable more and better connections at better prices for passengers while ensuring the highest levels of safety.

How will the agreements benefit European business?

Global connectivity is a driver of trade and tourism and contributes to economic growth and job creation. It is estimated that during the first eight years of the agreements the economic benefits for both the EU and China will be up to €3.5 billion and 11,000 jobs will be created. Background The traffic between the EU and China has doubled to 10 million passengers in 10 years (2008- 2017) with an annual growth rate of 6.7%. This puts China at 10th position (between Israel and Egypt) in the list of biggest extra-EU partners.

In air freight, China is the second most important extra-EU partner (US being the 1st) with 1.5 million tonnes, growing annually over 9% in the past 5 years. In 2019 over 30 airlines are connecting EU to China offering a choice of 84 city pairs, 475 weekly return flights and over 270.000 weekly seats. Also over 110 weekly return freight flights ensure the flow of goods.

Traffic by air between EU and China

Traffic by air between EU and China

Factsheet - external aviation agreements - China

Source: European Commission