The US and European Union will sit down next week for talks on
an open skies agreement, set against the backdrop of a bitter
rivalry over government subsidies to aircraft-makers Boeing and
Airbus. In both cases, the US hints a compromise may be
But the talks scheduled for next Monday ostensibly won't touch
on the trade dispute, which threatens to drag out into a
decades-long war between the continents. Instead, US Transportation
Secretary Norman Mineta and his EU counterpart, Jacques Barrot,
talked on the telephone to arrange next week's conference aimed at
reaching an open skies arrangement between the US and Europe.
The open skies agreement is still a contentious issue between
the two. Both sides almost reached an agreement last year -- until
Europeans demanded more access to American skies for their
Europeans now want not only more access, but the right to
purchase controlling shares in US airlines -- something Washington
has balked at for decades.
Why a breakthrough on open skies now? Perhaps because the United
Kingdom now holds the rotating EU presidency. Talks between the US
and Britain are ongoing along several fronts to increase US
airlines' access to London's Heathrow Airport.