EU, India sign civil aviation deal ahead of summit
Marseille, Sep 29 (DPA) The European Union (EU) and India have signed a deal on civil aviation, effectively legalizing 26 separate deals which India had held with individual EU member states, ahead of their annual summit Monday, officials confirmed.
The deal was signed late Sunday by India's ambassador to the EU and officials from the French government and the EU's bureaucracy just before a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, in the French port city of Marseille.
The signature came just 24 hours after the European Commission, the EU's executive body, confirmed that it was to give India 470 million euros ($686.5 million) in aid money to reduce poverty over the next five years, with $180 million dedicated to healthcare and primary education.
The aviation deal puts an end to nearly six years of legal uncertainty which began when the European Court in November 2002 decided that bilateral deals on civil aviation services between EU member states and third countries discriminated against airlines from other EU states.
It does not in itself change the number or frequency of flights between the EU and India, but EU officials say that they hope it will encourage more airlines to offer services between the continents.
They also expect it to pave the way for further EU-India agreements on issues such as security and air traffic control.
Monday's summit is expected to address global issues such as climate change and the current financial crisis, and approve an 'action plan' for future EU-Indian cooperation, including on civil nuclear power.
On Tuesday Sarkozy and Singh are due to sign in Paris an agreement on civil nuclear power which Sarkozy has said could be worth up to 20 billion euros.
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