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EU hands WTO, US its plans to end Airbus subsidies

BRUSSELS - The EU said Thursday it met a WTO deadline to deliver detailed plans for ending Airbus aircraft subsidies contested by the United States for a decade.

"Today we have presented a comprehensive package of actions that achieves full compliance with the WTO recommendations and rulings in the Airbus case," said John Clancy, spokesman for European Union trade commissioner Karel De Gucht.

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The World Trade Organisation had given Brussels until close of business on December 1 to comply with May appeal findings that ruled some EU subsidies, including launch aid, incompatible with a specific agreement.

State aid granted to the aviation giant by the partner governments of Britain, France, Germany and Spain had caused "serious prejudice" to US interests, it said in an otherwise split decision in an epic tit-for-tat tussle with rival American planemaker Boeing.

However, as lawyers sharpen their teeth for the next round in the saga, Clancy underlined that Washington now had to ensure it severs ties with Boeing on similar findings against American subsidies when an appeal ruling lands in that parallel case.

"What is now important is for everyone to realise that the United States will be in the same position as we are today after the WTO appellate body will rule on subsidies to Boeing early next year," he said in a statement.

Both sides claimed victory in the split decision by the Geneva-based international trade body, which also reversed a key finding that financing by Germany, Spain and Britain for the development of the A380 superjumbo amounted to an export subsidy.

US aircraft maker Boeing said it believes Airbus has benefited from 18 billion euros ($24.2 billion) of illegal subsidies, a figure dismissed as fantasy by the EU.

No comment from the WTO is expected before December 19 when a session by its sensitive dispute settlement body is scheduled.

by Claire Rosemberg
(c) 2011 AFP
Published on ASDNews: Dec 1, 2011


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