UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Flying friendlier skies : the effect of the 2002 ECJ "open skies" ruling on EU-US air transportation negotiations - a study in policy convergence Smith, Edwin Keith


The international air transportation industry has historically been a paradox. While the industry enables globalization, historically, the international air transportation regulatory regime has been largely mired in protectionism. This restrictive regime was developed by national actors, who either owned or heavily subsidized their domestic carriers, and guarded their interests very closely, thus insulating the industry from large levels of foreign competition. This paradox of international air transportation continued until the development of convergence in regulatory policy through the 2007 ‘open skies-plus’ air transportation agreement between the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). This thesis examines the developmental process of this agreement as an examination of policy convergence theory, in order identify the explanatory powers leading to the formation of the ‘open skies-plus’ agreement. To identify the explanatory powers, a comparative analysis is established, using two historical reference points, t(0) and t(1), as case studies. This thesis uses two mechanisms for the development of policy convergence, international harmonization and regulatory competition, to identify why the convergence took place at this specific time and why it was set at this specific level of regulation. Using these mechanisms, the 2002 European Court of Justice (ECJ) ‘open skies’ ruling is identified as the explanatory power for the convergence of policy in this field, and the precedent set by the previous bilateral agreement between the US and the Netherlands is identified as establishing the standards of regulation in the 2007 ‘open skies-plus’ agreement. The thesis concludes with an examination of the prospects for further liberalization of transatlantic air transportation, as well as recommendations for the continued development of the field.

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