It is the law that sets the rules for provision of air services within the EU, including rules on operating licenses, access to air routes, pricing of tickets. It is also referred to as the ‘EU Air Services Regulation’.
The current version of Regulation, according to assessment of European Commission in 2019, needs improvement in many areas. For example, in the monitoring of the airline’s financial fitness, the determining of applicable labour rules to aircrew and their enforcement, or the safeguarding fair competition in the sector.
Regulation 1008/2008 should have been revised already in 2018. After multiple evaluations, consultations & assessments, the EU Commission still hasn’t published a proposal for the revision of this Regulation. It seems that the EU Commission wants to delay again the revision.
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Regulation 1008/2008 has played a very important role in liberalizing aviation in Europe. However, it ‘forgot’ to address the social consequences. As a result, today many pilots are flying with bogus self-employment and atypical contracts without access to social security and basic labour protection. The EU is today a social ‘no-law area’ for aviation workers.
A thoroughly revised Air Services Regulation would limit the abuse of labour rules and legal loopholes and ensure level-playing in the industry by prohibiting social dumping. Also, it would help national aviation and labour authorities to check on and enforce the rules. It is unacceptable that airlines with bad social practices are allowed to gain unfair competitive advantage and to make big profits by abusing the current loopholes in European legislation.
This is why revising this regulation – and closing its social loopholes – is a must!
Although the stakeholders might disagree on environmental questions that revision is touching upon, or airline ownership & control issues, there seems to be a common joint position regarding the need for social improvements, legal certainty and better tools for rule-enforcement. The EU Transport Commissioner herself said multiple times in the EU Parliament that social part of revision contains no doubts. Also, already since 2018, Transport Ministers have urged the Commissioner on several occasions to publish a proposal – most recently again in February 2023. So far, these calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears at the Commission.