Israel and the EU have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on an open skies agreement, as reported in Globes. The agreement will come into effect gradually by the summer of 2017, when there will be unrestricted air travel between Israel and the EU.

According to Globes: European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas said that the agreement was … very important for further strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations between Israel and the EU, adding, “Israel is a key partner for the EU and the agreement will strengthen the aviation links between the two partners and establish a high level of regulatory convergence.”

Minister of Transport Israel Katz said that the MOU was an unprecedented achievement for Israel, which would enable it to integrate with the global air space to boost incoming tourism, create jobs, and strengthen the economy.

At the same time, understandings were reached with the Antitrust Authority to cancel arrangements that discriminate Israeli airlines, so that they can compete on equal terms with European carriers.

Passenger traffic between the EU and Israel accounts for 60% of Israel’s traffic by scheduled carriers. There were seven million incoming and outgoing passengers between Israel and the EU in 2011.

The EU open skies agreement will supersede bilateral agreements between Israel and EU member states, such as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK.

For the full Globes article please click here.