Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Iceland and Norway to Join U.S./EC Air Transport Agreement

In an underpublicized move, the European Commission sent a proposal to the Council last month to allow Iceland and Norway to accede to the 2007 U.S./EC Air Transport Agreement.  See European Commission, COM (2009) 229 final (May 15, 2009) (available online here); see also European Commission, COM (2009) 226 final (May 15, 2009) (available online here).  If the accession request is approved, it will mark the first time the 2007 Agreement has acted in fact, if not in principle, as a plurilateral agreement.  See 2007 U.S./EC Air Transport Agreement, art. 18(5), 2007 (O.J. L 134) 4 (extending the Agreement to third parties following the development of conditions, procedures, and necessary amendments). 

For those unfamiliar with the concept, plurilateral agreements offer non-parties the opportunity to accede after the agreement has come into effect among its founding parties, but typically the latecomers must accept the terms of the agreement in their entirety.  See Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States sec. 312 (1987).  While the 2007 Air Transport Agreement is not expressis verbis a plurilateral, the Commission's recent proposal leaves no doubt that both parties are treating it as such.  As the Commission document states, the U.S. and EC developed the accession proposal together through the Joint Committee established by Article 18 of the Agreement.  See COM (2009) 229 final, supra, at 2.  With Iceland and Norway already "hav[ing] adopted the complete acquis communautaire in aviation policy," id., and the proposal itself making no modifications to the 2007 Agreement, see id. at 4, their accession will be in full harmony with the nature of plurilaterals.

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