Latest update 14/12/2016: please see below for more details
The EU Ownership & Control (O&C) rules, which are part of Regulation 1008/2008 provide that "an air carrier shall be granted an operating license by the competent licensing authority of a Member State provided that [...] Member States and/or nationals of Member States own more than 50 per cent of the undertaking and effectively control it, whether directly or indirectly through one or more intermediate undertakings, except as provided for in an agreement with a third country to which the Community is a party". In case an EU carrier is majority owned or effectively controlled by a third country or a national or nationals of third countries, the EU carrier would cease to be considered as such and could no longer take advantage of the liberalisation of the aviation market and could not benefit of the traffic rights within the EU.
The responsibility of assessing whether the provisions on ownership and control are complied with primarily lies on the competent licensing authority which is the authority of a Member State entitled to grant the operating license. However, the Commission can also do its own assessment on the basis of the information obtained and may take a decision to request a competent licensing authority to take the appropriate corrective measures or to suspend or revoke the operating license where necessary.
Latest update 14/12/2016: The EU Aviation Strategy, adopted on 7 December 2015, included, among other measures, the adoption by the Commission of interpretative guidelines on O&C of EU carriers in the course of 2016. They are meant to bring clarity to authorities and non-EU investors as to how the Commission interprets the O&C rules.
When drafting the guidelines, the Commission Services have taken into account the practice adopted in previous assessments carried out by the Commission. Interpretative guidelines developed by EU national civil aviation authorities have also been taken into account, where they exist.
The draft guidelines attached aim at clarifying both the content and procedural aspects of the rules.
ERA sent its comments on 7 October 2016.