China is, by population, the largest country in the world and has emerged over the past years as a leading player in world affairs, reflecting its extraordinary growth and rapid economic development. China has become an increasingly important partner for the European Union - and vice versa.
A Letter of Intent (LoI) with China was signed on 23 August 2013 providing a broad platform for cooperation in any field of civil aviation. Subsequently, the EU-China Aviation Partnership Project (APP) with an EU funded budget of 10 MEUR (for the period 2015-2020) was launched to strengthen this cooperation. Through this project, the European and Chinese aviation authorities jointly implement activities in close cooperation with their industries.
A Horizontal Agreement with China was initialled in December 2017 and is expected to be signed in 2018. This agreement will allow any EU airline to operate flights between China and any EU Member State where it is established and where a bilateral agreement with China exists and traffic rights are available. It does not replace the bilateral agreements but adapts them to bring them into line with EU law. This development based on China's recognition of the principle of EU designation is a major step change from the traditional set-up of aviation based on nationality restrictions and complements the EU's internal aviation market on the external side.
A bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA) was also initialled in December 2017, paving the way for enhanced cooperation between the EU and China in all areas of aviation safety, ensuring high standards and enabling growth of the EU and Chinese aeronautical manufacturing industries.
For further information and figures on EU-China aviation relations and EU aviation in general, please consult the Atlas of the Sky.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Hong Kong has been agreeing bilaterally with EU Member States the EU designation clause, whereby all EU airlines established in the territory of the EU Member State in question are eligible for available traffic rights.
Macao Special Administrative Region
A horizontal agreement with Macao was signed in 2013.