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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Rejects Plan to Fly U.S. Skies

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union said a U.S. offer to open up the $18 billion trans-Atlantic airline market was inadequate and pledged to seek a broader accord. The EU also said it would consider a two-stage opening if the United States gave some initial access to the domestic market.

The move comes a week after U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said he wouldn't consider letting European airlines, such as British Airways and Lufthansa, compete on domestic routes. It also comes before a fourth round of talks between the two sides due to take place later this month.

"What we have is not acceptable to Europe," Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said after EU transport ministers met. "There is nothing in terms of access to the American market."

An accord would encourage airline mergers by at least removing nationality-based traffic-right restrictions in existing U.S. treaties with European countries. The restrictions breach rules making the 15-nation EU a single economic area, the bloc's top court has ruled.